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Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

by Suremy Tse 05 Dec 2023 0 Comments

The assessment of whether someone is suitable as an outdoor companion has nothing to do with their education, skills, or status. The crucial factor is feeling at ease when interacting.

The enjoyable dynamics experienced during hiking greatly rely on the 'empathy' shared among fellow hikers. Understanding the following eight role shifts in outdoor scenarios can pave the way for a more enduring journey.

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Leading Teammate vs. Trailing Teammate

  • How should the leading hiker consider their trailing teammate?

Hikers with good physical endurance and experience often take the lead in a team. It's common for a team to comprise individuals with varying strengths. If the leading hiker constantly feels that the slower-moving trailing teammate is questioning, 'Why are you not as good? Why does it take so long to cover these few steps?'

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

Empathy is the key to gaining acceptance. In actuality, at times, the teammate trailing behind the group happens to be the strongest, most resilient, and determined person. Maybe their current physical condition doesn't entirely sustain this journey, yet they persist resolutely till the end.

Despite their inability to keep up with the pace, their struggle with each step, and the laborious use of their trekking pole, they persist in moving forward quietly, conquering every obstacle in their path. Hence, refrain from casually expressing doubts about others' abilities or mocking them.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

Many say, each person is a source of light; let your own light shine without dimming others' lights. With more life experiences, one's inner self tends to become more transparent, fostering a deeper comprehension of embracing and accepting others. This understanding stems from the realization that by helping others succeed, they also fulfill themselves.

  • How should the hiker trailbehind the team practice 'empathy' or 'put themselves in others' shoes'?

Some hikers at the rear of the team often call out, 'Slow down up front.' When this causes discomfort, some may suspect that someone is intentionally widening the gap in the team, neglecting the group's overall welfare, and solely focusing on advancing independently to showcase their abilities...

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

However, in reality, the teammates leading the group often walk faster due to their superior physical strength and pace, unintentionally outpacing the others. To accommodate the slower hikers in the group, they might endure bone-chilling winds that penetrate their clothes, leaving them feeling thoroughly cold. Despite this, they choose to take a few more steps and wait a little longer...

This act of waiting is equally demanding; they might even risk catching a cold from the biting wind before reaching the mountain's base. Hence, avoid hastily blaming the lead hikers for a lack of unity; remember to minimize your own breaks and try to cover a few more steps as swiftly as possible.

 Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

Hiking Team Member vs. Outdoor Leader

  • How should team members regard the leader?

Within any team, there's always someone quietly putting in effort, scouting new routes, strategizing, and keeping track of time. For inexperienced outdoor enthusiasts, the leader is like a superhero, anticipated to tackle any difficulty or problem that emerges.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

In truth, the leader is just another regular hiker; the only difference is their willingness to shoulder the team's responsibility, offering their efforts without expecting anything in return. Each time on an expedition, the leader occupies the front seat of the vehicle, observing the fully equipped hiking team behind them, leading them—a role that subtly creates substantial pressure.

Therefore, while hiking, if it's a minor issue that one can resolve independently, it's best to handle it oneself to avoid burdening the leader. In cases where the leader overlooks something or manages it poorly, it's crucial to empathize and not dwell too much on it.

In truth, the leader is just another regular hiker; the only difference is their willingness to shoulder the team's responsibility, offering their efforts without expecting anything in return. Each time on an expedition, the leader occupies the front seat of the vehicle, observing the fully equipped hiking team behind them, leading them—a role that subtly creates substantial pressure.

Therefore, while hiking, if it's a minor issue that one can resolve independently, it's best to handle it oneself to avoid burdening the leader. In cases where the leader overlooks something or manages it poorly, it's crucial to empathize and not dwell too much on it.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

  • How should the leader practice 'empathy' with teammates during outdoor activities?

Outdoor activities are far from being simple or leisurely excursions. In the mountains, it's crucial not to treat team members as a scattered flock of sheep. This is particularly important when dealing with inexperienced outdoor enthusiasts as a sense of team involvement holds great significance for them, ensuring they aren't isolated or overlooked in any way.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

Simultaneously, don't overlook the experienced hikers who have explored the mountains multiple times. They might not exchange greetings as they are self-sufficient. Even though they might not require specific attention, they still benefit from consideration.

'Assessing others from our own standpoint may never yield a flawless conclusion.

However, those who can perceive the world from a different angle can cultivate a distinct life.'

To ensure this hiking journey is flawless, don't underestimate the impact of expressing care verbally. It's akin to a thermos brewing wolfberries—remembered at any time, it offers a sip of sweetness.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

New Outdoor Enthusiasts vs. Seasoned Hikers

  • How should new outdoor enthusiasts view experienced veteran hikers?

To truly exercise empathy, the initial step involves listening and observing rather than swiftly making judgments.

For novices in the outdoors, seasoned veteran hikers have embarked on countless climbs and gathered vast experience. Every step they take embodies a classic result derived from years or even decades of hiking. Occasionally, a few words uttered by them may encompass insights gathered from years of mountain trekking.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

Don't solely focus on fancy gestures or striking poses when reaching the summit; the techniques and outdoor skills honed through attentive listening, reflection, and mastery can often be more practical than what's seen in videos or books.

Depending on newcomer status for special treatment, casually tagging along for food and drinks, disrupts the harmony among hikers, instead of nurturing a spirit of humility, collective endeavor, and a respectful attitude, all crucial for progressing further along the outdoor journey.

  • How can seasoned team members set a positive example for novice outdoor enthusiasts?

What defines hiking etiquette? There's a highly regarded answer: 'Empathize and consider situations from others' perspectives.'

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

Everyone has been a beginner, starting from square one. When you spot a newcomer in the group struggling with meal preparation for the mountain hike, it might be worthwhile to boil some spring water and whip up a pot of instant noodles, sharing a few sips of the soup with them... While it's not an obligation or responsibility, that first taste of soup during their inaugural outing can keep their spirits warm.

As this ethos is passed down through generations, no outdoor enthusiast will feel uneasy on their first mountain climb.

Encountering newcomers who don't appreciate shared experiences shouldn't always spark anger or frustration. Perhaps they lack the ability to discern and appreciate the wisdom in experienced advice, but eventually, through practice, they'll uncover their own truth.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

Female Outdoor Enthusiasts vs. Male Outdoor Enthusiasts

  • How should male teammates empathize with female hiking companions?

Within a hiking team, both men and women frequently collaborate, leveraging their individual strengths. However, if there's an assumption during the journey that female hikers should automatically handle cooking, meal cleanup at the campsite, and ideally even offer leg massages...

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

No matter how capable a female hiker is, after a long trek to the campsite, she might feel exhausted, yearning to 'disconnect from the world,' merely lying amidst the mountains, admiring the scenery, feeling the gentle breeze, and relishing the aroma of freshly cooked noodles.

In the outdoors, 'men and women working together don't tire.' No task is exclusively for one gender. It's through collective efforts that everyone can swiftly enjoy a piping hot meal and appreciate the leisurely camping moments. Often, what some view as assisting others ultimately benefits themselves.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

  • How do female outdoor enthusiasts perceive their male counterparts in the outdoors?

In outdoor excursions, there are numerous 'hands-on moments,' such as carrying backpacks, pitching tents, fetching water, and cooking. If there's a constant expectation for outdoor men to assume leadership, embody gallantry by rushing to carry the heaviest load, consistently being the first to reach the campsite, and working tirelessly without a word, that expectation might not be very realistic.

In reality, even if men in the outdoors are gentlemen, they might not always feel inclined to display such behavior. Situations during the journey might not always align perfectly, but it's not a matter of right or wrong; everyone has their own disposition.

With greater understanding and empathy, considering that everyone has come this far together, the aim is to collectively ensure a good rest. Being proactive and willingly contributing, adjusting to a different outdoor approach in this setting, can mitigate disagreements and alleviate fatigue.

Empathetic Hiking Dynamics: Fostering Unity and Understanding Among Outdoor Enthusiasts

In the outdoors, individuals who are easygoing tend to possess a kind-hearted nature, opting for a generous approach in their interactions. Shifting perspectives can unveil entirely different worlds. With this in mind, the hope for this hiking journey is that everyone can collectively radiate positivity towards one another.