The Benefits of Hiking

A significant part of a typeface designer’s job is looking at small details. A regular person might look at a font and be able to identify the difference between a sans and a serif. But if they take the time to look and learn, they could appreciate the little quirks that make each typeface unique. It’s the same with hiking; For a first stroll in the woods, someone might only be able to distinguish between trees and bushes. But they might look closer, at the tiny differences, at the blossoms and berries and lichens. They’re in a fascinating world with so much to explore.

Cherry blossoms, Northern bayberries, and Old Man’s Beard growing on branches.

Hiking excites the body and the mind, keeping both healthy. Being outside, moving in nature has been shown to improve creativity and decrease anxiety. Not to mention a brisk walk uphill brings a rush of endorphins that comes with any exercise.

Hiking engages all the senses. In autumn, oak galls turn brown. Crush them in your hand or beneath your boot for a pleasing, crispy crunch. It’s almost as satisfying as cracking the delicate ice that forms over puddles in winter. The twig of a black birch tree smells like peppermint, a sassafras stem smells citrusy-sweet. There’s plenty to eat in the woods, too, but it’s best to Leave No Trace unless you really know what you’re doing, and you own the land you’re doing it on.

The scenery is always changing; no two hikes are alike. Abundant flowers in the spring. Lush greenery in the summer. A collage of colors in autumn. I’m looking forward to peaceful snow this winter.

Same meadow, different days.

Whenever I’m out hiking, I stop and say to myself: “In this moment, I am okay. I am surrounded by a beautiful forest. I have my health. I am very lucky to be here right now.” Being in the present, I relax. I feel gratitude. Once I’m home, I feel good, having done something for myself. There is a sense of triumph from having accomplished a goal. My spirit renews, and I have the strength to face whatever challenge comes next.

Bette(r) Days celebrates the things that did not suck in 2020. Each day in December, we’ll be posting about the highlights of our collective garbage fire of a year, type-related or not.