As varied as the rich flora and fauna of Tirol, it can be interesting to consider the various inclinations and preferences that make us all unique, especially outdoorsmen. People approach hiking differently and people hike for all manner of different reasons, but I have started to notice some broad groups that account for most hiking styles. There are those seeking solitude and there are those who want to push the limits. There are those who want to capture pictures of that perfect moment and there are those who want nothing more than enjoying delectable dishes served on quaint on-mountain eateries. Naturally, there are many exceptions but I’ve found these seem to capture most hikers I’ve come across. What do you think?
He’s enjoying a traditional Tirolean dish at the mountaintop restaurant before the gondola has resumed operation. He’s blathering on to people he has never seen before, sitting right and left to him. He’s quenching his well-earned thirst with another beer and orders an apple pie with whipped cream – all that mountain air works up an appetite! And while the sun is kissing his pale face, he’s having another Swiss stone pine liqueur. Aah, that tastes just right after the hiking exertion of the day! He rides the gondola down the mountain at sunset, when the Alpenglow has the peaks aflame with orange light. What a great day on the mountain that was!
“You only live once, that’s the motto…YOLO”. The carpe diem sentiment of this buzzword implies that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks, as if there would not be another chance for it. Thus the Hipster Hiker aims to reach new heights. He loves to match his hiking outfit to his stylish daypack, even coordinating socks, beanie and sunglasses. He comes to the hike with smartphone and selfie stick. With all the beautiful sights to see on hikes, Stoked, a blue flower! Sick, a sharp stone! Hey man, a white cloud!, it’s no wonder that he is always running a little behind. Because he is making sure to get photos of all he doesn’t get to see personal (only through the camera lens) and to post the photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in real-time. He shares and likes and tracks and hikes. And all he does spreads quickly through the turbocharged vehicle of social media. In the evening he chills over a vegan, lactose and gluten free, political correct BBQ —because hey man, why not? YOLO!
Is it far or steep? Bitterly cold or sizzling hot? Preferably all four, with ultralight soles he’s working his way up the mountain, passing cows and cowpats, catching his breath. A mere pittance of sweat and toil and a final push up a steep hillside is all that’s keeping him from the summit. It’s so straight up that it’s more like climbing a ladder than hiking uphill. Under the scorching sun. Finally, the summit. Nine hundred and forty-three meters of elevation gain. Four kilometers in 44 minutes, 43 seconds and two hundredths of a second. All monitored by his fitness watch and activity tracker. For an energy-revving fuel, he enjoys an energy bite that is sweetened with dates and studded with oats, cocoa and chia seeds. Clocking in at 600 calories per piece. Once replete and replenished, he puts on another extremely light, functional shirt made of breathable, moisture wicking fabric and heads downward. Performance is great. He has pushed the limit once again.
He’s browsing the guidebook in the morning, avoiding the routes that are suggested. His preferred destination is one of the least-climbed peaks in the country. He regularly stops and marvels at the stunning scenery and contemplates the forces of nature that created it. He simply loves that feeling of remoteness, walking for hours and hours. A route-finding endeavour, he follows the unused trail to the top of the nameless mountain. Once he has attained the summit, he bites into an apple while taking in the solitude of the mountains and the serenity of nature. Having the whole place to himself. It’s not that he doesn’t like people (as long as they’re quiet, far away and atop other summits). It’s just that their presence reminds him of crowded shopping malls and everything that is wrong with the world. So, as long as you don’t dare to cross him on the trail ruining his day, everything is fine.
The good ‘ole days when he first became one with nature are remembered in his outfit. Wearing real leather hiking boots, that notorious red and white checkered shirt and lederhosen—what else?—he relives the glory days with style. Accompanied by a shorthaired pointer dog. To him, the mountains mean home. He’s a nature lover and knows gentian, arnica and every single one of the other 137 protected wild flowers of Tirol. His favourite bedtime reading is guidebooks, maps and playing cards. He knows every mountain like the back of his hand. No place is too far to walk. He spent more on his last pair of binoculars than on his first car. He loves close-up sightings of roe deer, chamois, eagles, wolves, whales, and other wildlife. (A flying squirrel will do in a pinch.) Wondering why other people are bringing gadgets like TVs and smart watches while hiking in his beloved mountains.
So, which type of hiker are you? ;-)