Some of our best friends are not bound by common interest, but instead by mutual trust and respect. It's only natural to want to get these stellar people to share your passions and deepen the relationship.
Most people refuse to hike because they are just plain intimidated. The common objections most ordinary folks have towards hiking should sound familiar. Elaborate or blunt, these excuses are heard over and over again:
- You want to leave at what time? That's too early for me.
- It's too hot/cold.
- We'll get lost.
- It's boring.
- I don't have the right shoes.
- I'll get bitten/scratched/completely devoured by a wild animal.
- I'm too busy.
- I'm out of shape.
All objections can easily be overcome with a giant dose of positivity. While you can't rush anyone into doing anything before they are ready, you can drop no-pressure suggestions over time. Their curiosity is bound to pique at some point, just as long as you haven't pursued your friend with a cultish fervor.
Plan It Out Ahead of Time
Your friend will likely want to know where you want to go, how far the hike is, how difficult it is, etc. Have a map ready to show them. Sending them links of amazing photos can be pretty convincing as well. Pick a range of times and days that you are available, rather than asking for one specific day or time. It's much easier to say yes when your friend feels like they've been given an option to choose what works best for them, yet it also takes the pressure off of them to come up with times and dates themselves.
Let's Go for a "Walk"
Walks are so much less intimidating than hikes. You can take them around the hills of your neighborhood to keep it local. While walking up any incline is technically hiking, you don't have to tell them that.
Address Legit Concerns
You may be able to tolerate more extreme weather than your friend, but it's simply because you have had enough positive experiences with hiking that you know it's worth it. He or she might be genetically more sensitive to temperature and find the heat or cold unbearable. Suggest a hike that addresses these concerns. If your friend doesn't want to get up early to go for a hike, and that is the main deterrent, go for a hike in the afternoon. You may not have the time to drive out to the most exotic places you want them to experience, but you'll get their feet wet and give them a taste of the joy you experience all the time.
Make It Less About the Hike and More About Them
Shorter and easier hikes help get people hooked. This should be a time to hang out and make some great memories. Unlike noisy bars and other places or activities that inhibit conversation, hiking is a prime opportunity to talk. In fact, you'll probably run out of banal things to say pretty quickly. If you're seeking a truly deeper connection with a friend, hiking gives you plenty of time to open up. You may be surprised at where the conversation goes.
Stress the Exercise Benefits
Many people want to get into better shape, but the gym is either too intimidating, or simply not entertaining enough. Livestrong.com says that a 160-pound person can burn up to 440 calories in one hour while hiking, while a 200-pound person can burn even more. According to Active.com, an average person burns about 100 calories per mile running a 12-minute mile for one hour (that's 500 calories). Roughly, this means that you will burn the same amount of calories running that you would for hiking. It's much easier to get bored while running than while hiking, especially if you're new at it. It can be said that running only requires that you put one foot mindlessly in front of the other (although avid runners would strongly disagree). In contrast, you have to think about where you should put your foot next while hiking, especially when there are large rocks complicating the incline. Hiking requires a bit more active thinking to accomplish, and therefore makes it a bit more interesting.
Reward with Food
Who can say no to a good meal? In return for being a good sport and trying out a hike with you, offer to buy your friend lunch or dinner at their favorite place to eat. Another great place to plan for an after-hike feast is a hole-in-the-wall joint near the hiking location. It's fun to experience the local flavor. In addition, don't forget to pack the snacks! No one likes to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with an empty stomach.
Join a Social Media Group
Meetup.com is an obvious choice for finding an enthusiastic group of people to hike with. Some are even geared towards beginners, which is an added bonus for your friend. Other ways to integrate social media into your persuasion is to find a hashtag challenge on Instagram or Pinterest, such as the #52HikeChallenge. It encourages you and your friends to hike somewhere new and share your photos and experiences with others all over the world who are doing the same.
Science the Hell Out of It
Hiking is a hundred times more interesting when you can identify the geology of the sediment or the species of plants you see. It opens up a whole new world which you may not have previously been aware of. Some areas have cultural or historical significance as well. If your friend is knowledge-hungry and bookish, this may be the spark they need to get up and go with you.
The most important thing to remember when trying to get your friend to hike with you is to not be pushy. It doesn't work in sales, and it doesn't work in the case of hiking either. You want to get your friend excited about it and not push them away. Keep the interactions positive and avoid any kind of begging, harassment, emotional manipulation, kidnapping, or blackmail. But of course, bribery, especially when involving food, is never off the table.