AS THE BAROMETRIC PRESSURE rises, so does the peer pressure. It's hiking season again and outdoor enthusiasts are in full bloom. Even these hallowed pages are contributing; observe my nemesis Erik's guide to hiking right here. But before you boot-up out of social guilt, allow me to suggest something controversial: You don't have to go hiking just because you live in Portland. You can always... not.
Hiking combines 18 of my least favorite things, including walking, inclined planes, backpacks, nodding at strangers as you pass, drinking from Nalgenes, blisters, and wayfinding. Especially the nodding at strangers part. I don't know you, and you're the kind of person who goes hiking. We are NOT friends.
The first part of any good hike-avoidance strategy is crafting a good excuse. When you're sitting around discussing weekend plans and your "friend" suggests you join him and his wife on a hike, make your apologies before your desire for inclusion writes a check your thighs will have to cash.
"I can't really go hiking, I've got a foot thing."
A "foot thing" ends almost any conversation. It's one of those classic phrases that make people shake their head sympathetically with zero desire for more information like "just some family drama" or "I had a crazy dream last night."
Hiking Alternative #1:
Keep the walking, lose the inclines.
Once you've dropped your excuse, quickly suggest an alternate activity so you seem like a team player. Inclines are the main downfall of hiking, so get rid of 'em. Why not take a walk on the Esplanade/Waterfront Park loop? It's almost entirely flat, it's beautiful, and you can make fun of the tourists in pedal cars and the shirtless local spinning stuff around her body like she's still at Burning Man.
You can also take the MAX and an intense elevator up to the Hoyt Arboretum where a leisurely walk awaits you with minimum grade. Sure it can be crowded, but you're in the woods without ever being too far from a snow cone stand. Win? Meet other win.
Hiking Alternative #2:
Keep the inclines, lose the walking.
While I hate walking up things, I LOVE standing on top of them. It sounds like a paradox, but there's a one-word solution: gondolas. It's the best of both worlds. And we happen to live in a city crazy enough to have one designed exclusively to take nurses from their condos to the bodily fluids they've chosen to clean up for a living. But it's open to the public and for under $5 you get an effortless trip up a mountain. Once you're at the top, the views from the hospital are incredible and the best part of being a hospital tourist is NOBODY nods at you. Ever.
If you want to speed up the whole process and replace the sick people with still-overpriced drink specials, take the elevator up to Departure or Portland City Grill and grab some happy hour. Or for a wilder view, you can drive all the way up to the Vista House at Crown Point and get amazing views without even having to leave your car. Without too much trouble, you too can stand on the top of a hill and think smugly, "I defeated you, hill. You think you're so cool but I'm on top of you and there's nothing you can do about it. Unless you're a volcano. God, I hope you're not a volcano. Okay, I'm going back now. Sorry to bother you, Mr. Volcano. Goooood volcano."
Hiking Alternative #3:
Live vicariously through other people.
Wild is still playing at Laurelhurst! It's really good! It's WAY more fun to watch somebody else do the hiking, plus you might learn some valuable lessons. Did you know hiking is the result of bad life choices? Of course it is! And while you might feel some personal accomplishment, the only thing hikers have to look forward to when they're done is having sex in a yurt.
I know it seems daunting, but I assure you with a bit of preparation and conversational misdirection, you can make it all the way to the rainy season without having to go on a single hike. And nobody will ever nod at you as if you're friends because you both made the same mistake on a Sunday morning. STOP NODDING AT ME LIKE WE'RE BOTH DRIVING CORVETTES OR SOMETHING. I HATE YOU AND YOUR DOG AND HIS COLLAPSIBLE WATER BOWL.
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