Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column that’s going to try this one more time.
Every time we try to explain our theory of hiking semantics, we end up sounding like babbling morons with a loosening grip on the English language. The last time we tried writing about it, our in-house code-breakers poured over it for days before declaring it irrevocably unintelligible.
But we have a good feeling about this attempt, mainly because the audience – the good readers of Summit Up – know a thing or two about hiking.
So please bear with us as we stumble over and dissect the semantics of this noble activity to the point of analytical paralysis. It’s a hobby we’ve created for ourselves.
We have this friend, Kenny, who once told us that a hike is nothing more than a glorified walk. Mind you, Kenny weighs 278 pounds, drinks beer most mornings and has been trying to quit smoking for 5,475 consecutive days – minus that three-week stretch in 1996 when he fell in love with a professional female wrestler who pummelled him every time he tried to light up. But at least he’s trying.
Despite Kenny’s shortcomings, I think we can still take his assertion on merit.
Really, what’s the difference between a hike and a walk? Isn’t a hike just a certain type of walk, one that takes the walker through forests, up and over mountains and/or around lakes? Isn’t a walk just a hike that happens on sidewalks and roads, near man-made structures?
What we need here are rules. Something saying, for example, if a hiker gets within 100 yards of a building or pavement, the hike then suddenly becomes a walk. Or that trailheads are the exact lines of delineation that turn a walk into a hike, so that a hiker walks to a trailhead then hikes on the trail.
This way, if someone asks us if we want to go for a walk, we know that man-made structures will be involved. And if someone asks us to go for a hike, we understand that we will not see cars, trucks or buses, except maybe when we are walking to get to the hike.
The problem is, there are no other subsets of walks besides hikes. We’ve racked our brains, believe us. And there is some mathematical rule that says you can’t define something as a subset of a larger whole without more than one subset. So if hiking had a counterpart that was similarly a type of walk, then we could correctly call them both types of walks. But without that foil on the other side, a hike is just a walk.
It’s a walk that follows tacit rules about avoiding proximity to man-made structures – but a walk nonetheless.
And as Kenny would say – that loafer from another time and place – the rules that define a hike around the idea of seclusion amount to a glorification of what a hiker is doing – and that is, walking.
But it seems this designation – hiking – is here to stay. People are very attached to the term and need to feel its power as they stride up the great peaks of the world. It seems that calling it walking just won’t do the activity justice.
So, we’ve created a new type of activity: URBAN HIKING!
Is this not the greatest thing you’ve ever heard of!?
When you walk down the Main Streets of Summit Up Land, you are not strolling, loitering or window shopping, you are urban hiking.
But to really experience the joys of this endeavor, you have to head down to Denver, or better yet, to Chicago, London or the other great cities of the world.
An urban hike through the main roads and back alleys of a great city is the height of outdoor exhilaration. Like its more traditional counterpart – the nature hike – an urban hike allows for a brisk workout, but has the added bonus of allowing the hiker to notice the faces, talk to the people and admire the architecture of the Earth’s great urban centers.
Call us crazy and tell us to move to Toledo, but often we prefer that to views of trees, leaves and dirt.
Full disclosure: We are very results-oriented nature hikers, meaning (despite what we learned and tried to take to heart in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”) we love getting to the destination, which on the hikes we tend to choose, is the view.
But we will be forever enamored with urban hiking. There, in the buzz of the city, the journey is the destination, as they say.
And don’t call it a walk through the city, until you are ready to call a nature hike a walk through the woods.
Is semantics a legitimate college major or what? We know rhetoric is. Maybe that’s as close as we could come.
Monday is always the best day for urban hiking. If you have any suggestions of which cities are ripe for a good urban hike, please let us know at email@example.com or just tell us that semantics is about as viable a college major as voicemail technician on the voicemail at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237.
We’re out doing you know what …
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