When people ask me why I love hiking so much, they often don’t expect to hear that I started to enjoy it because I studied Geology at Imperial College London. Growing up, my number one hobby was reading and watching TV, and it wasn’t until my interest in Earth Science led me to hiking that I develop a love for nature and adventure. I became an adventure traveler through academia.
HOW GEOLOGY SHAPES MY ADVENTURE
Geology is the study of Earth’s natural history and processes. It’s different from geography, which studies physical processes that shape the Earth as well as human factors. The study of Geology focuses on volcanoes, earthquakes, fossils, rock layers, and tectonic plates. I learned how to think in huge timescales and read rocks like a book. In fact, it’s one of those subjects that changes your perspective completely, and you’ll no longer be able to look at a mountain and not think about how it is formed.
During my university years, we went on several field trips a year to study rocks in Spain, Italy, Scotland, England, and Greece. There are many famous geological wonders such as the Grand Canyon in U.S. and Rainbow Mountain in Peru, but these are less exciting in the geological sense. Most travelers wouldn’t be intrigued by the thick layers of Halite (rock salt) in the middle of Spain or the Messinian Salinity Crisis, an event that marked the Mediterranean Sea almost completely evaporate 5.96 to 5.33 million years ago.
THROUGH THE LENS OF GEOLOGY: VOLCANOES
Unfortunately, we never visited a live volcano during my studies. Instead, when I graduated, I headed out to hike up Stromboli in Italy for my graduation trip, where visitors can witness a live eruption. Stromboli is an active volcano that erupts continuously with little explosive events, making it safe to hike up and observe most of the time. It’s the model of the Strombolian Eruption, which is the second mildest eruption type in the index.
Mount Fuji is one of the most iconic volcanoes in the world and a classic stratovolcano with its symmetrical shape. I had an epic experience hiking up Mount Fuji that I’ll never forget. It is also an active volcano, formed from alternate layers of lava and ash with different composition, and erupts very infrequently. The last eruption of Mount Fuji was in the Edo-period in the 18th century. Personally, through my lens of geology, hiking up volcanoes means more to me than just a sense of accomplishment, but also to see, first hand, the different volcanic processes that I studied.
ACADEMIA TRANSFORMED TO ADVENTURE AND MEMORIES
Geology is how I get started but it’s the thrill of adventure and memories that got me hooked on exploring the great outdoors. Hiking and adventure travels have taken me to places that one couldn’t reach otherwise. Admittedly, the journey isn’t always pleasant when you’re on it. Being freezing cold in the rain carrying a 10 kg backpack for hours is nobody’s idea of a good time, but it’s a good story to tell and to know that you can accomplish it.
While a lot of the times trekking tougher than expected, you won’t find another activity that is as bonding as hiking together for a few days. I trekked with a group of fellow travel bloggers to explore Nepal’s Poon Hill and we became quickly became good friends from hiking 8 hours a day and being completely off the grid.
STAYING ACTIVE WHILE TRAVELING
Hiking is a good way to stay active and fit while enjoying nature, and it’s certainly something I seek out when choosing my holidays. People often struggle to find a way to exercise or stay fit when they travel, and being adventurous is the best solution. This isn’t limited to hiking, though it is my personal favorite form of exercise. I ended up hiking and cycling by myself when I was in Slovenia, but be sure that if you’re alone you have an offline GPS map such as Google Offline Map and that someone knows where you’re off adventuring.
Always carry the right equipment, especially mineral sunscreen and a reusable water bottle. Hiking requires appropriate footwear so check that your shoes have the right grip to go on wilderness trails.
UNLIMITED PHOTO OPS
Another one of the main reasons why I love going on hikes and adventure is because the views are usually stunning. Living in Hong Kong, there are endless hiking trails that take you up to amazing viewpoints. One of my favorites is Tai Tun Shan, which takes 3 hours on a medium to high difficulty to the most scenic views of the bay. My other favorite hikes around the globe have been Phadeng Hill in Nong Khiaw, Laos, Mount Batur in Bali, Indonesia, from Cinque Terre to Portovenere in Italy, Calanques in Marseille, France, and Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Nam Cheah is a third culture millennial who spent half her life in Hong Kong and the other in the UK. With a passion for travel, hikes, food, and puns, she documents her travel for on her suitably named blog: Laugh, Travel, Eat. When she isn’t traveling she’s writing novels, pick up all four of her books on Amazon Kindle! You can follow her personal travels on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter at @LaughTravelEat.
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