What Hiking Means to Some

Soon I will celebrate 30 years of hiking – there must be a reason why I love to hike! I get very enthusiastic about hiking, and maybe some of my enthusiasm can inspire you to get out a little more. Not sure if retirement has given me more or less time to hike. It seems our lives are always busy, but I make sure I fit hiking in.

I’m Mary Hof, and I live in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. I’m part of four hiking clubs: Cowichan Hikers, Outdoor Club of Victoria, Island Mountain Ramblers, and Alberni Valley Outdoor Club. Oh, and I also hike with my Thursday ladies’ group.

I know we all hike for different reasons, but one thing we can agree on is our love for nature. That good feeling after a long day outdoors, even if it’s just a short walk, is something special. Hiking is like a peaceful escape from all the family stuff, community buzz, and world problems. It calms us down and helps us focus on what’s coming up next. Plus, it’s good for staying fit, and it’s not too expensive or complicated. Personally, I love a good challenge and the feeling of accomplishing something.

I’m really into the challenges set up by The Island Mountain Ramblers. In 2022, I got the Lifetime Objective award, which was a big deal for me. I’m only the ninth person to get it since 1987! This year, I snagged the Ridge Rambler award by hiking 10 ridges on Vancouver Island with the club. Check out our website – it might spark some inspiration. It’s cool to add these achievements as badges on my backpack. Lots of folks are into these challenges, and it makes hiking even more fun.

This year, I took on another challenge with different hiking groups on Facebook – the 47-hike challenge in the Sooke Hills. Some of those peaks have no trails, just a bunch of bushwhacking. I’ve been hiking in the Sooke Hills for 30 years, and reaching the top of Mary’s Peak (yes, named after me!) was awesome. It’s the ninth-highest peak there.

We’re lucky to live where we do and explore beautiful BC. This summer, I hiked in the Northern Selkirk Mountains. Taking a helicopter to the Durance Lake Lodge was a highlight, and I made memories that’ll stick with me. Every hike, I give thanks for good health, the awesome friendships from 30 years of hiking, and for those who showed me the ropes. I’m thankful I can show others the way too and plan to keep leading hikes as long as I can.

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