Turn Your Phone Off on Your Next Hike and Simply Be

Snaps can wait. Grams can wait. Pokémon GO can DEFINITELY wait.

By: Mike Scaturo
July 14, 2016

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You’ve been planning this hike all week. You wake up at 4AM, make at pit stop at the gas station for some last minute snacks, and hit the road. There’s no reason to check social media at that time because – well – no sane person would be waking up that early on the weekend. As the sun climbs over the mountains to the east, you arrive at the trailhead, sling your pack over your shoulder, and you’re off!

Fast forward and your back in your car, exhausted from a fulfilling hike. As you get back home the first thing you do, let’s admit it, is either frantically upload your snaps that failed to upload when you were out of service, or post that one photo you took that is just so good. Because if you didn’t snap or ‘gram it, did it really happen? Well, believe it or not, yes, it actually did.

Don’t get me wrong, if Snapchatting or Instagramming on a hike were a crime, there’s a good chance I would be on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted. Maybe some of you out there don’t have a problem shutting off your phone, but I do, and I’m notoriously bad at leaving my phone in my pack to simply enjoy my hike. An ex-girlfriend once told me that I had a hard time just being present. Years later and I’m finally making an effort to be just that. So if you’re like me, here are some reasons to log off Pokémon Go, put your phone away and just simply, be!

1. You’ll Miss the Moment

This is a pretty obvious one. It’s hard to take in a sunset when you’re watching it through your phone. If you see wildlife on the trail, by the time you whip your phone out for a picture, they animal will most likely be long gone. Don’t miss a moment, take it all in the way nature intended! This brings me to my next point…

2. No Picture is Better Than the Real Thing

Unless you’re bringing your DSLR there’s a good chance that your photo (yes, even after filters) will end up leading to the inevitable you-had-to-be-there kind of moment when you try and show your friends later on.

The results of a regrettable snap-spree from my July 4th hike at Mt. Hood, Oregon.

3. You Can Tell More Stories

There’s something to be said about a good old fashioned story. Too often I find myself sharing my adventures with others through a screen (see Reason #2). As I frantically scroll through my camera roll, letting my phone narrate my story, I can literally see my friend’s eyes glazing over. We already spend enough time on our phones when we’re with our friends, this is a great chance to tell a tale!  

4. It Can Be Dangerous

Just like our driving instructors told us back in the day, “don’t text and drive”, being on your phone while hiking can be dangerous. You may roll your eyes but more and more people are getting injured trying to get the shot. We’re not recommending you signal at every turn on your next hike, and while we’re more worried about you falling off of a cliff, there is actually a new injury called “selfie elbow”…you can’t make this stuff up…

5. It’s Your Chance to Really Disconnect

This may be the most important point. Admittedly, I suffer from phone #FOMO. To be honest, it’s hard for me to be without my phone for more than a few minutes. That being said, once I am forced to put my phone away, I can usually let go and relax. Hikes, long or short, are an incredible opportunity to disconnect and take a look around.

I’m not saying you should never use your phone to document one of your adventures! I’ve been on many hikes where I just couldn’t help myself; I’d never be there again and wanted something tangible to remember it by. But every now and then, turn your phone off, leave it off, and take in nature for what it was intended to be.

Trust me, you can catch Pikachu on your lunch break at work this week.

Cover photo: Juan Moreno

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.