The most popular hiking trails are getting more and more attention. How do we reduce our effect on the most established areas? We asked the question to our Lundhags friend Urban Axelsson, outdoor guide with 365 outdoor days per year.
– Just get out, you don’t need to go where everyone else is going. There are loads of hiking trails that are becoming overgrown, while more and more people are at the known places, such as the Jämtland Triangle and the Kings Trail, where it is sometimes overcrowded. Maybe it’s all tied together with social media, where individual places are hyped. Instead, we have to hype the unknown places so as to not overload the most popular places.
– I was in South America two years ago. We ended up in Peru and Cuzco, but instead of going up the usual Inca trail to Machu Picchu, we chose another less known Inca ruin. There, we were almost alone, and maybe met 10 people the whole day. And the ruins looked exactly like Machu Picchu. We swam naked in a waterfall in the middle of the day.
Urban’s three hiking tips
– Choose a hike in the nearby surroundings to avoid travelling. You have certainly a good area close to where you live. You definitely don’t have to travel far to find good hiking. And it doesn’t need to be particularly spectacular – you’ll still get the experience.
– Combine hiking with something besides the walking itself. Search for something cultural, something historical, something to add to the hiking experience. Walk between wine vineyards or between somewhat ruggedly located mountain stations. Or walk along the High Coast. Try to immerse yourself and learn something about the area where you are hiking.
Push the boundaries
– Push your limits. Challenge your boundaries. I think that you grow as a person when you encounter mother nature and she’s a little testy that day. You have to get out there and test your limits. We’re becoming relaxed and apathetic. The small everyday problems can become major setbacks, but if you’ve braved the elements, it will feel like “yes, I’ve survived a snowstorm, so I can handle this every day problem too”.
Urban, you are definitely crazy in nature experiences. What can stop you from being outdoors?
– There has to be something seriously wrong in body or mind, otherwise I get out. I’d rather not stay inside. I broke a leg a few years ago, but it was simply to adjust and adapt to the outdoors after that. Sure, I was forced to change cast four times but it went well. You have to adapt the outdoors to any failings, but still get out.