||It has been suggested that Dayhike be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since December 2013.|
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking have been confirmed in studies. The word hiking is understood in all English-speaking countries, but there are differences in usage.
In the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, and United Kingdom, hiking refers to walking outdoors on a trail for recreational purposes. A day hike refers to a hike that can be completed in a single day. Multi-day hikes with camping are referred to as backpacking in North America. In the United Kingdom, the word walking is also used, as well as rambling, while walking in mountainous areas is called hillwalking. Fellwalking describes hill or mountain walks in Northern England, including the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, as fell is the common word for both features there. Bushwhacking specifically refers to difficult walking through dense forest, undergrowth, or bushes, where forward progress requires pushing vegetation aside. In extreme cases of bushwhacking where the vegetation is so dense that human passage is impeded, a machete is used to clear a pathway. Australians use the term bushwalking for both on and off-trail hiking. New Zealanders use tramping (particularly for overnight and longer trips), walking or bushwalking. Multi-day hiking in the mountainous regions of India, Pakistan, Nepal, North America, South America, Iran and in the highlands of East Africa is also called trekking. Hiking a long-distance trail from end-to-end is also referred to as trekking and as thru-hiking in some places. Examples of long-distance trails include the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the USA, the Pennine Way, England, and the E5 European long distance path, which runs from Brittany in France to Verona in Italy.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, tramping (Czech: tramping, tremping, a word borrowed from English) is a combined culture of hiking, backpacking, scouting, woodcraft, music, with the characteristic flavor of American culture, especially Wild West.
The idea of undertaking a walk through the countryside for pleasure, developed in the 18th-century, and arose because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature, associated with the Romantic movement. In earlier times walking generally indicated poverty and was also associated with vagrancy.
to encourage the taste of visiting the lakes by furnishing the traveller with a Guide; and for that purpose, the writer has here collected and laid before him, all the select stations and points of view, noticed by those authors who have last made the tour of the lakes, verified by his own repeated observations. 
To this end he included various 'stations' or viewpoints around the lakes, from which tourists would be encouraged to appreciate the views in terms of their aesthetic qualities. Published in 1778 the book was a major success.
Another famous early exponent of walking for pleasure, was the English poet William Wordsworth. In 1790 he embarked on an extended tour of France, Switzerland, and Germany, a journey subsequently recorded in his long autobiographical poem The Prelude (1850). His famous poem Tintern Abbey was inspired by a visit to the Wye Valley made during a walking tour of Wales in 1798 with his sister Dorothy Wordsworth. Wordsworth's friend Coleridge was another keen walker and in the autumn of 1799, he and Wordsworth undertook a three weeks tour of the Lake District. John Keats, who belonged to the next generation of Romantic poets began, in June 1818, a walking tour of Scotland, Ireland, and the Lake District with his friend Charles Armitage Brown.
More and more people undertook walking tours through the 19th-century, of which the most famous is probably Robert Louis Stevenson's journey through the Cévennes in France with a donkey, recorded in his Travels with a Donkey (1879). Stevenson also published in 1876 his famous essay "Walking Tours". The sub-genre of travel writing produced many classics in the subsequent 20th-century. An early American example of a book that describes an extended walking tour is naturalist John Muir's A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf (1916), a posthumous published account of a long botanizing walk, undertaken in 1867.
Due to industrialisation in England, people began to migrate to the cities where living standards were often cramped and unsanitary. They would escape the confines of the city by rambling about in the countryside. However, the land in England, particularly around the urban area of Manchester and Sheffield, was privately owned and trespass was illegal. Rambling clubs soon sprang up in the north and began politically campaigning for the legal 'right to roam'. One of the first such clubs, was 'Sunday Tramps' founded by Leslie White in 1879. The first national grouping, the Federation of Rambling Clubs, was formed in London in 1905 and was heavily patronized by the peerage.
The Access to Mountains bill, that would have legislated for the public 'right to roam' across some private land, was periodically presented to Parliament from 1884 to 1932 without success. Finally, in 1932, the Rambler’s Right Movement organized a mass trespass on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire. Despite attempts on the part of the police to prevent the trespass from going ahead it was successfully achieved to massive publicity, leading to the Mountain Access Bill being passed in 1939. In 1949 the National Park Act led to the creation of the Peak Park as a national park with full access for ramblers.
The equipment required for hiking depends on the length of the hike, but day hikers generally carry at least water, food, a map, and rain-proof gear. Hikers usually wear sturdy hiking boots for mountain walking and backpacking, as protection from the rough terrain, as well as providing increased stability. The Mountaineers club recommends a list of "Ten Essentials" equipment for hiking, including a compass, sunglasses, sunscreen, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a fire starter, and a knife. Other groups recommend items such as hat, gloves, insect repellent, and an emergency blanket. A GPS navigation device can also be helpful.
Proponents of ultralight backpacking argue that long lists of required items for multi-day hikes increases pack weight, and hence fatigue and the chance of injury. Instead, they recommend reducing pack weight, in order to make hiking long distances easier. Even the use of hiking boots on long-distances hikes is controversial among ultralight hikers, because of their weight.
Hikers often seek beautiful natural environments in which to hike. These environments are often fragile, as hikers may accidentally destroy the environment that they enjoy. While the action of an individual may not strongly affect the environment, the mass effect of a large number of hikers can degrade the environment. For example, gathering wood in an alpine area to start a fire may be harmless if done once (except for wildfire risk). Years of gathering wood, however, can strip an alpine area of valuable nutrients. Generally, protected areas such as parks have regulations in place to protect the environment. If hikers follow such regulations, their impact can be minimized. Such regulations include forbidding wood fires, restricting camping to established camp sites, disposing or packing out faecal matter, imposing a quota on the number of hikers per mile.
Many hikers espouse the philosophy of Leave No Trace: hiking in a way such that future hikers cannot detect the presence of previous hikers. Practitioners of this philosophy obey its strictures, even in the absence of area regulations. Followers of this practice follow strict practices on dealing with food waste, food packaging, and alterations to the surrounding environment.
Human waste is often a major source of environmental impact from hiking. These wastes can contaminate the watershed and make other hikers ill. Bacterial contamination can be avoided by digging 'catholes' 10 to 25 cm (4 to 10 inches) deep, depending on local soil composition and covering after use. If these catholes are dug at least 60 m (200 feet) away from water sources and trails, the risk of contamination is minimized.
Sometimes hikers enjoy viewing rare or endangered species. However, some species (such as martens or bighorn sheep) are very sensitive to the presence of humans, especially around mating season. To prevent adverse impact, hikers should learn the habits and habitats of endangered species.
There is one situation where an individual hiker can make a large impact on an ecosystem: inadvertently starting a wildfire. For example, in 2005, a Czech backpacker burned 7% of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile by knocking over an illegal gas portable stove. Obeying area regulations and setting up cooking devices on designated areas (or if necessary on bare ground) will reduce the risk of wildfire.
Etiquette of hiking
Sometimes hikers can interfere with each other's enjoyment, or that of other users of the land, so hiking etiquette has developed to minimize this. Common hiking etiquette includes:
- When two groups of hikers meet on a steep trail, a custom has developed in some areas whereby the group moving uphill has the right-of-way.
- Being forced to hike much faster than one's natural pace can be annoying, difficult to maintain consistently, and increases fatigue; it may also cause injury. But if a group splits between fast and slow hikers, the slow hikers may be left behind or become lost. Therefore a common custom is to encourage the slowest hiker to lead and have everyone match that speed. Another custom is to have experienced hiker(s) sweep up the rear on a rota, to ensure that everyone in the group is safe.
- Hikers generally avoid making loud sounds, such as shouting or loud conversation, or the use of mobile phones. However, in bear country, hikers make noise as a safety precaution.
- Hikers tend to avoid impacting on the land through which they travel. Hikers avoid impact by staying on established trails, not picking plants, or disturbing wildlife, and carrying garbage out. The Leave No Trace movement offers a set of guidelines for low-impact hiking: "Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photos. Kill nothing but time. Keep nothing but memories".
Hiking may produce threats to personal safety. These threats can be dangerous circumstances while hiking and/or specific accidents or ailments. Diarrhea has been found to be one of the most common illness afflicting long-distance hikers in the United States. (See Wilderness acquired diarrhea.)
Dangerous hiking circumstances include losing the way, inclement weather, hazardous terrain, or exacerbation of pre-existing medical conditions. Specific accidents include metabolic imbalances (such as dehydration or hypothermia), topical injuries (such as frostbite or sunburn), attacks by animals, or internal injuries (such as ankle sprain).
Attacks by humans are also a reality in some places. There are organizations that promote prevention, self-defense and escape.[which?] Cell phone and GPS devices are used by some organizations.
In various countries, borders may be poorly marked. It is good practice to know where international borders are. For example, in 2009, Iran seized three American hikers for crossing over the Iran-Iraq border while hiking. Many nations, such as Finland, have specific rules governing hiking across borders.
- Backpacking – also known as trekking, a multi-day, often arduous hike especially in mountainous regions
- Day hiking
- Dog hiking – hiking with dogs that carry a pack
- Freehiking – nude hiking; also hiking off-trail
- Heli Hiking – using helicopters to access otherwise inaccessible areas
- Hillwalking – a British term for hiking in hills or mountains
- Llama hiking
- Nordic Walking – fitness walking with poles
- Scrambling – "non-technical" rock climbing or mountaineering, or "technical" hiking
- Thru-hiking – hiking a trail from end to end in one continuous hike (people may end to end a trail, but in section hikes)
- Ultralight backpacking
- Walking tour similar to backpacking
- Waterfalling – aka waterfall hunting and waterfall hiking, is hiking with the purpose of finding and enjoying waterfalls
- America: Appalachian Trail
- Australia: Cape to Cape Track
- Britain: National Trails
- Canada Bruce Trail
- Europe: The GR5; European long-distance paths
- Papua New Guinea: Kokoda Trail
- South America: Inca trails
- Cross-country skiing – often the equivalent of hiking in snowy lands during wintertime
- Fell running – an English and Welsh sport of running over rough mountainous ground, often off-trail. Known as Hill running in Scotland and Ireland. Similarities exist with Mountain running popular overseas, but also many differences.
- Geocaching – outdoor treasure-hunting game
- Orienteering – running sport involving navigation with a map and compass
- River trekking
- Rogaining – sport of long distance cross-country navigation
- Snow shoeing -- a way of hiking in deep snow
- Trail blazing -- known as way marking in Europe
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- Trekking and Hiking in Persia - Iran| High Places
- The Norton Anthology of English Literature, ed. M. H,Abrams, vol.2 (7th edition) (2000), p. 9-10.
- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking. New York: Penguin Books, 2000, p.83, and note p.297.
- West. A Guide to the Lakes. p. 2.
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- Jardine, Ray (2000). "Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine's Guide to Lightweight Hiking". AdventureLore Press.
- Cole, David. Impacts of Hiking and Camping on Soils and Vegetation: A Review.
- "Principles". Leave No Trace. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
- "Chilean park recovering from fire". Daily Mail. 2005-05-25. Archived from the original on 2011-02-11.
- Devaughn, Melissa (April 1997). "Trail Etiquette". Backpacker Magazine. Active Interest Media, Inc. p. 40. ISSN 0277867X. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
- Boulware, D.R.; et al. (2003). "Medical Risks of Wilderness Hiking". American Journal of Medicine 114 (4): 288–93. doi:10.1016/S0002-9343(02)01494-8. PMID 12681456.
- Goldenberg, Marni; Martin, Bruce (2007). Hiking and Backpacking. Wilderness Education Association. p. 104. ISBN 0-7360-6801-5.
- Gordon, Michael R.; Lehren, Andrew W. (2010-10-23). "Iran Seized U.S. Hikers in Iraq, U.S. Report Asserts". New York Times.
- "International Borders". Hiking in Finland. Metsähallitus. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
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