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  • Writer's pictureShreya Swaika

Why I Hike


Young woman with outstretched arms standing on a rocky ledge looking out over steep mountains and glacial valley

Photo by Shreya Swaika, Pathloom



To hike is to let yourself go, forget all your troubles, and just enjoy being in the outdoors. It is about both the journey and the destination. Today I am a passionate hiker and I spend every opportunity I get in the mountains. Whether it's day-hikes or backpacking trips, you can be sure to find me puttering along somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. But it was not always this way. Let me take you on a journey of how I developed an unquenchable thirst for hiking and adventuring in the outdoors.

As an impressionable young pre-teen, I started attending a boarding school that was nestled in the Nilgiri Mountains in Southern India. Every morning we would be woken up at the crack of dawn and made to go cross-country running. Back then, having to run on beautifully manicured trails surrounded by mountains and tea gardens just seemed to be more of a chore than a fun activity. I quickly realized that I liked the mountains and the views, but not so much the running! There is always something for everyone to enjoy in the outdoors, we just have to figure out what best suits us and our needs. For me, at the time it was hiking and horseback riding. I was fortunate that the school took us on camping trips every semester. I learned a lot about camping and self-reliance, and further developed my passion for long hikes and the outdoors in general. In high school, the Duke of Edinburgh program (an outdoor program based on kilometers hiked/biked/backpacked and extra-curricular achievements) was offered at our school, so I of course jumped on that opportunity. That was my first introduction to multi-day hiking and backpacking. Ankit, the founder of Pathloom, also went to the same high school and participated in this eye-opening program. Who would have thought that so many years later, our love for outdoors would lead to us working together!

As life went on and I grew up and went to University, hiking and the outdoors took a backseat while I focused on education and my career. I was living in several different places, none particularly close to the mountains. Then a few years ago, as luck would have it, my career brought me close to the Rocky Mountains. I was fairly new to alpine hiking when I first moved close to the Rockies, but my curiosity and love for nature would not let me go too long without giving it a shot. I asked a friend to take me on one of her favorite hikes, not really knowing at all what to expect. So, dressed in my skinny jeans and sneakers, in 40-degree weather, with snow still on the ground, I embarked on my first real hiking adventure as an adult! Huffing and puffing my way up this very steep slope, I started to question my decision and the meaning of life itself. Luckily for me, shortly after this, we reached the top, and the view was breathtaking. Literally. I was out of breath! The bird’s-eye view of a stunning turquoise lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks instantly had me hooked. That is when I caught the hiking bug. I could think of nothing better than sitting with my legs dangling off a hill, having lunch and chatting with my friend, and all the while looking out at the most incredible view.

Young female hiker points out at glacially carved, turquoise blue lake and surrounding rugged, snowcapped mountains in New Zealand

Photo by Shreya Swaika, Pathloom

I had a demanding job at the time and was not left with a lot of time to plan extended trips in the mountains. Life gets in the way of our hobbies sometimes, but we can come up with creative ways to work around these issues. I decided to start out with shorter day hikes that were closer to the city so I could still get out and explore, which was better than not doing anything all at.

Since there wasn’t one website or app I could use to get information and scope out future hikes, I did some digging on different blogs and parks websites, and found my next big hike! It was a short drive and a short hike, but the trail was steep and an unrelenting uphill the whole way. I still did not have hiking shoes or any kind of actual outdoor gear because I simply could not afford it at the time. I was broke but unstoppable! Equipped with my runners and multiple sweatshirts, I decided to give it a try. A grinding two hours into the trail, my friends and I reached the first false summit. Across the way, we could see the valley open up, with a pointed mountain right opposite us. A green glacial lake sat at the base of the opposing mountain. It was majestic. We turned back onto our trail and saw the fun that was yet to come - a steep hill of loose rock and some minor scrambling at the very end. After a quick snack and water break, we journeyed on and eventually got to the top. At the end of this extremely difficult and strenuous trail, atop one of the highest peaks I had summited, I was elated. I forgot the soreness of my muscles and the panting of my breath. All I was feeling was this immeasurable ounce of peace and fulfillment. Standing 8,300 ft above sea-level, looking out at a horizon dotted with beautiful yet intimidating peaks gave me a kind of clarity I had never experienced before. I had managed to achieve a personal goal as well as benefit from the astounding views surrounding me. There are few experiences and moments that can compare. After multiple photos, videos, and some more snacks, we started our descent. Back at the parking lot by the trailhead, I was tired but could not have been happier.

Young, female, Indian hiker sits atop rocky outcropping looking down at twin alpine lakes and panoramic mountain peaks

Photo by Shreya Swaika, Pathloom

The mental gains from a quick four hours in the outdoors helped me more than I could have imagined! This gave me the motivation to continue hiking, and today, many years later, I am healthier both mentally and physically, because of it. I have since been on numerous day hikes, backpacking trips both in Canada and abroad, and have introduced friends and colleagues to the wonders of the outdoors.

Young female hiker sits atop a rock beside flowing evergreen forest stream surrounded by high mountain peaks

Photo by Shreya Swaika, Pathloom

Now that you have read about my journey, it is time to embark upon one of your own! If you want to set yourself free, believe that you can achieve anything you want, and just be happy, give the outdoors a chance. Hiking is what I find most rewarding, but it could be something different for you. The options are endless.

Let us at Pathloom help you find your happy place. Sign up on our website to get exclusive early access, and let us help you plan your next outdoor trip.


For more information on hiking, backpacking, or camping, check out the following articles:

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