If there’s one thing that is absolutely evident to me when it comes to the outdoor community here in Victoria, or indeed Australia, is that everyone is keen to learn.
Whether that be learning something for the first time or learning a new way of doing something that you’re already doing, there certainly is a keen level of interest.
And none more so when it comes to those who have just got into hiking.
It’s almost like those first nerve wracking few weeks at a new school when you’re desperate to fit in and not be awkward.
And with that comes questions and plenty of them. And rightly so.
There is so much to learn and discover when you first enter into the world of hiking to the point where it can be overwhelming.
What shoes/boots do you need? Where are the best trails? What food should you be taking? What’s the best day pack to have? And on it goes.
But there’s something I’ve observed over the past 5-years during my own time in the hiking community.
It’s this tendency to almost make someone feel bad for asking what might be deemed a ‘green’ question aka a basic question.
Now, I should preface this by saying that this observation is of the minority as it almost always is.
However, it happens all too frequently for my liking.
I can recall my own experiences as a beginner hiker during my preparation for my first trip to New Zealand.
I made a point of really delving deep into the International section of the Bushwalk Australia forum.
There was some great information in there about some of the places I was planning on hiking through and one person in particular appeared to have extensive knowledge of these areas.
Naturally, I wanted to know more so I began asking him various questions about everything from track conditions to appropriate clothing for New Zealand and on it went.
Either he got sick of my questions fairly quickly or there was something else going on that I was unaware of but he basically told me that if I had to ask that many questions then I clearly wasn’t experienced enough to be hiking there.
“Your inexperience is showing and I’d prefer not to waste my time answering any more of your questions” is what he told me.
Now, I didn’t let this deter me whatsoever and I did go on my New Zealand adventure, but his behaviour was nothing short of abrupt and rude.
And while I was able to push on through and not let his arrogance bother me, I can only imagine that there might be some beginner hikers out there who interpret behaviour such as this as the norm and thus not bother asking anymore questions.
Or, worse, withdraw from doing it altogether. And that should never happen.
This is one incident on a forum, but I’ve also seen similar incidents in other online communities such as blogs, Facebook groups, Instagram pages, direct messages and emails.
So if you are a beginner hiker who has a million and one questions floating around in your head, don’t be afraid to ask.
In fact, ask all of them.
And ask them again if you’re not 100% clear on the answer you’ve received.
Especially when it comes to questions that might be deemed as basic questions such as “how much water and food should I take on a day hike” or something of that nature.
Because regardless if you’ve been hiking for 10 days, 10 weeks, 10 months or 10 years, there was a time when we were all beginners and we were all learning.
And we all had the same questions that you have now.