Green giving is all the rage at Christmas time these days. While green giving often takes the form of giving something that allows the recipient to make the world a better place (or at least not making it any worse), the best green gifts are often not things at all. For example, giving the gift of hiking this holiday season doesn’t have to involve anything besides your loved one(s) and a trail.
A Gift that Keeps Giving
Hiking is an activity available for free to millions of people, yet many people never take advantage of this first-rate, green activity. That’s why introducing someone to hiking as a Christmas gift can be the gift that truly keeps on giving. Hiking can easily become a lifelong pursuit, and it is also an opportunity to inspire an appreciation of nature that may foster future conservation and stewardship of public lands.
A Gift that is Good for the Environment
In addition to being a gift that keeps on giving, giving a hike as a Christmas gift doesn’t necessitate the consumption of any resources (except the drive to the trailhead, if it is not within walking distance). While hiking boots or high-tech hiking shoes are nice, for a simple hike, a sturdy pair of running or walking shoes can suffice. No special clothing is needed beyond what the recipient of the hike most likely already has in his or her closet. A plastic bottle filled with tap water and a map downloaded for free off the Internet round out the “necessary equipment.”
A Family-Oriented Gift
What better way to create a Christmas memory than to give a hike to the whole family on Christmas. Even without a camera, the memories will last a lifetime. With a camera on hand, however, the opportunity can present itself for next year’s pictoral Christmas card.
If younger children are involved, consider taking the time to make a map of the hike ahead of time. This map may have a theme (e.g., a pirate treasure map or a hike into a magical land) and can be wrapped up and presented on Christmas morning before the hike begins. More often than not, generating excitement before the hike will keep little legs going once on the trail, especially if a “treasure” has been marked on the map at the end of the hike.
A Romantic Gift
For those without children, giving your spouse or significant other a hike for Christmas may be one of the most memorable gifts he or she has ever received. Plan a hike to a spectacular destination (e.g. a waterfall, dramatic overlook, snowy forest, etc.), and share a poem once there. Consider memorializing the moment with a photograph, which can later be framed side-by-side with the poem and given to the person as a birthday gift or next year’s Christmas present.
Choosing the Right Trail
Perhaps the biggest pitfall to giving a hike for Christmas is choosing the wrong hike. The giver wants to give something that is memorable in a good way (not memorable like the Bataan Death March). Be sure to choose a hike that is within everyone’s limits. Remember, for someone that is not accustomed to hiking, a walk on a scenic “Rails to Trails” trail or a paved path through a city park can still be an unforgettable, green gift. Alternatively, if the recipient is an experienced outdoor enthusiast, consider ascending a mountain on Christmas—now that will be memorable!