Chances are, if you are an avid hiker or even a beginner, you are using Instagram to interact with others and find awesome places that are too cool for even Outside Magazine to list. If you are not yet, get on there! There is such a community you can build!
Personally, Instagram is where I started finding communities. I used this hashtag just for fun, #WomenWhoHike, with a picture of my out of shape self about to trek 5 miles at a park in North Central Minnesota. I remember how freaking difficult the hike was. It was only supposed to be a 3.5 mile hike, but I got turned around. The bugs must have been listening to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” because they were getting nuts, and I was not about to escape them no matter how hard I tried. I whined about the hills the whole time. Oh, and I had a 30 pound child strapped to my back. I still used the hashtag, and I continued to hike.
If it was not my biophilic endurance that kept me hiking and pushed me to continue to get in shape, it was the community I built from that single hashtag that I used. I noticed that the same people were liking my posts and starting to comment and message me. We exchanged tips, and we congratulated each other for our accomplishments. I also started to engage with #WomenWhoExplore and began using #TWLHikingClub to try and create my own group. I based the name off of this blog. Hikes and conversations were to be focused on plants and wildlife- naturalism really, as you will see on our first meetup on August 11th.
Now, I will admit, #TWLHikingClub has not fully caught on with others yet, but we haven’t tried that hard until recently, so I am not shocked. It will grow.
As a hiker, I believe that Instagram is an unmatchable tool though. Are you thinking of going to any place to hike? Want to see cool spots or current conditions from someone who is not necessarily affiliated with the park? Look up the hashtag with the park’s name. This has helped me pack and even caused me to take detours on my way to places. I have seen that trails are muddy, so I brought my boots instead of my chacos. I have seen that just outside of a place I was heading on a road trip was a beautiful waterfall. I went and fell in love.
I have also made a point to watch the stories from the people I follow. I tend to follow people who post about the outdoors, people I personally know, and more recently fitness people, but I’ll get to that later. The stories are where people are the most honest in my opinion because they are temporary. I reply to them, and I ask questions. I have actually forged some valuable friendships through the story feature.
As a hiker, you might think that you should really only follow hikers, right? I am going to say nah. I am also going to assert that many many many people enjoy the outdoors even when they do not advertise it like you and I might. There are hidden gems all over the place- use your hashtags! I always have these fitness people follow me that I am 90% sure all work for the same company. I keep following them though for a few reasons. One of them is as I just stated. I mean they followed me, so I follow back, but they might also post some pretty cool nature locations from time to time – which they do! The other reason is that fitness is so incredibly important in the outdoors. Like, if you really are a backpacking, thru-hiking summit seeker, you are not going to be as successful without the muscles and endurance you need. Seeing constant images of fitness really does get in your head and motivate you. I really suggest you find some that inspire you.
All in all, what is most important about Instagram is that you know how to use your hashtags. This is how you find people. Ladies, I really do recommend #WomenWhoHike. Men, I have not found (or really tried to find) a group like this for you. I mean, I’m sure you know why. But, do some searching because the options really are limitless. Use #Hiking, and look at what other hashtags are being used. That is where it starts.
And remember, for real, use our hashtag! Our community is slowly building around the country. We have a few people in the Houston Area and the rest are in TC and Central Minnesota. If we see communities building in an area, we will certainly try and set up meetups there!
If you’re new to this, feel free to give me a follow on Instagram and see how I do it: @teacherwhohikes
If you have a story about or from hiking please do not hesitate to share. We will totally feature your story and pictures. To contact us with your story, message us on Instagram, @teacherwhohikes. You can also message The Wild Life on Facebook.