• Illustration: Alison Kerek

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."