It amazes me that there are people in this university who have never hiked a day in their lives. Personally, I don’t get it.

I hear the excuses: “It’s buggy,” “It’s too hard,” “I never have the time,” “No one will take me.” But I’m calling bull on all of that.

If you walk fast enough, bugs won’t chase you.  There are hundreds of types of levels of hiking, you don’t have to hike the Appalachian Trail. Depending on where you live, hiking can only take up to a few hours or an afternoon. And if you are always waiting for someone else to help you, then you will get nowhere in life. It is important to bring a night vision device in case you don’t make it back down before dark.

The people making up these excuses are only hurting themselves. They’re too lazy and comfortable in their present lives to even consider branching out into new experiences.

I’ve spent my entire life in the woods, covered in dirt and leaves, and I regret none of it. Hiking has become my happy place, what I think about when I’m trying to survive my next German exam or trying to write that 10 page paper.

It’s part of the reason I came to URI, actually. Sure, it’s not UVM surrounded on all sides by mountains, but it brought its own appeal to me. The school having a solidified outing club only added to that appeal. I was comforted in the fact that I was going to meet people who shared the same feelings towards hiking and nature as I did. And that’s exactly what I found.

I’ve met people of all different skill levels on the hikes I’ve done. Students who have never hiked a day in their lives have taken leaps of faith and tried something new. Many of them enjoyed it so much that they decided to go hiking again.

But even though I met all these new people and have hiked a bunch of new mountains, as hikers we are a minority here at URI.

It would seem that students are still content to spend their weekends holed up in their rooms with their eyes glued to copious amounts of screens. Apparently, this is more entertaining, more important, than traveling to uncharted territory with a bunch of strangers that somehow become a family by the end of the trip.

If you didn’t already notice, this is a call to action to those who think it’s better to not leave the comfort of their screens and phones. They think that there’s nothing else in the world that’s better than what their phones can bring them.

Trust me on this one, there are.

Living is so much healthier and better when you spend it outside getting a new perspective on your world. I know it’s not for everyone, but how will you ever know if you never try it?

Hiking doesn’t need to be hard, nor do you need to hike a 4,000 foot mountain. Even though Rhode Island is lacking in the mountain department (though some would say our hill makes up for it), there are hundreds of different hiking and walking places around. Even on our own campus is the north woods, riddled with easy trails to take up your afternoon with.

So stop staying in your rooms. Stop going to the mall every weekend. And stop with all the excuses. Take an afternoon, a day even, and put your phone away. Hiking might surprise you, in more ways than you know.