The Pandemic Hiking Surge (July 2022)

In accord with my inner geek, I started keeping track of my trail distance and gain when I switched mostly to hiking in 2008. These data were accumulated basically for fitness tracking – and maybe for a little friendly competition with other hiking bloggers.

Then, when I launched this blog in March of 2016, WordPress started generating even more data for me – at a minimum, how many times a given post was viewed. And then, in October of 2019, Google Analytics started shoving even MORE data at me – 28-day active users being the most understandable speck of their data torrent. So I was already awash in data when the Pandemic struck in March of 2020.

Much has already been said about how hiking rose to prominence during the Pandemic. For those who weren’t totally locked down (or in) and who had access to the outdoors, hiking was deemed a virtuous, virus-safe activity. You could enjoy the healthy advantages of Nature with plenty of social distancing and without a mask (at least if the trail wasn’t too crowded πŸ™„). I knew this in the abstract. What I didn’t expect to see was this sudden interest in hiking showing up in data from my little blog.

But there it was. Both WordPress and Google Analytics (which count content engagement somewhat differently) showed sharp peaks of interest in the summers of 2020 (when the original virus was loose) and again in 2021 (when the “old” virus had been supplanted by its more transmissible variant).

And then, as ephemeral as a mayfly hatch, the surge was over. The deep desire to get back to normal, aided and abetted by vaccines, effective treatments, and virus burn-out, had regained the upper hand. By the time 2021 rolled to a close, my site’s views and users had retreated to their pre-pandemic levels.

I can’t know if this surge translated into more actual hikes but I’d like to think it did. 😊 I’d also like to think that some of the people whom the Pandemic pushed into hiking are still hitting the trail from time to time. πŸ˜„ If so, then perhaps a little good came out of all the personal and social suffering wrought by COVID. Perhaps…

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9 thoughts on “The Pandemic Hiking Surge (July 2022)

  1. Love this analysis. My interest has been multi-pronged. The lockdowns fueled an obsession with being outdoors and perhaps escaping. Who am I kidding…no perhaps about it! I closely followed hikers on all the major trails (triple crown.) At the same time, thoughts turned to home where my parents, who were avid hikers, were locked up in assisted living. My yearning for them and myself to be free and wandering the trails of southern Oregon once again led me to your wonderful site. Through all this, I’ve been hiking a little, but mostly dreaming. I’m forever thankful for your taking us along on your hikes. πŸ’š

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  2. And there was a noticeable increase in SAR incidents too – exceeding one’s abilities, unprepared, etc. I’m hoping that those who found hiking in 2020, and have decided to continue with it, will embrace LNT, spread out, and maybe visit the less visited places. They could get off Instagram too – but I’m not that wildly optimistic. 😲πŸ₯ΊπŸ˜‰

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  3. Very interesting data to see! As someone who found hiking in 2016, I can say there has been a visibly noticeable difference in the amount of people on the trails throughout the years. Especially for certain places that have become overly popularized on Instagram. But, 2020 was like a swarm of newly hatched mosquitoes in comparison. People that had never been hiking or backpacking took it on in full force. Which I’m all in support for everyone appreciating the outdoors and finding a new hobby, but it was to the point of overcrowding. In some cases places that didn’t have the capacity to accommodate that many people at once were effected most and trashed by those that didn’t understand Leave No Trace Principles. Or at least in those overly popular areas, we were still able to find some solitude in the places less visited.

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  4. Thanks! It’s gratifying to know at least one of the views (by you) lead to a hike (by you)! 😁 The cool and wet seems to have started in Oregon the day we left. πŸ™„ We got to Minnesota to find that – despite it’s 10,000+ lakes – it was experiencing a drought (when there weren’t flash floods)! 5th driest June on record! Oh, the irony! πŸ˜’

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  5. I found your blog about that time and was happy to discover some new hikes (in Southern Oregon). Alas, I’m probably not going to be doing many in Minnesota! We’ve had a cool-ish, smoke-free summer so far (knock on wood).

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  6. Your writing is engaging and your photos are gorgeous. Your readers are lucky to have such great info available!

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