Tunes On The Trail – A Survey
Earlier this week I was chatting with Adam about what to expect and how I can succeed as an Epic Social Adventurer. In the midst of our Facebook messenger conversation, a song kicked on my iTunes shuffle.
It so happened to be the song that pushed me up and over the rock scramble on Bearfence Mountain on my Appalachian Trail section hike through Shenandoah National Park last fall. It took me right back to that moment and it got me thinking…
That was a really tough day on the trail for me, mentally and physically. I had a 3 day old blister that was throbbing on my pinky toe and while I loved where I was and what I was doing, I didn’t really love where my head was. Turkey and I stopped for a Snickers break and before we took off again, I decided to put the headphones on that I brought with me and for the first time ever – I listened to music while hiking.
It changed the whole tune of the day for me. (Pun thoroughly intended.) I put a playlist on I had made for the gym and the music on it was very upbeat and motivating. I stopped dragging and began to put miles behind me; keeping up with the pace of the music. I wasn’t focusing on my discomfort anymore. Instead I was focusing on where my steps fell, and the beat of the music. I soared up the inclines and past the oncoming weekend hiker traffic. Those headphones saved my life that day. I would never be without them again, I promised myself. My precious…
…Wouldn’t ya know it, I left those dang headphones at Lewis Mountain Cabins the next day by accident. Oops.
Now sitting in the glow of my computer, I began to wonder as this song that drifted from my laptop (True to Life by Röyksopp in case you were wondering) that ignited all of these thoughts; how many people accept moral support in the form of music while on trail?
It’s not something I always do. In fact, I had only done it that one time, but it was enough to wake me up to the fact that when I’m struggling – I will gladly take the music plugged in to my ears over the sound of my own heavy breathing (and the occasional curses under my breath.) Music has always been a huge part of my life, why wouldn’t it add to the element?
Let’s be real; NOBODY likes the guy blasting music out of his phone speakers at full volume for all to hear, be it on public transportation, a waiting room and especially in the expected solitude of the forest. But headphones are a different story.
I made a simple survey asking if people listened to music on trail with headphones and posted in a few of my favorite hiking related Facebook communities and on my Instagram story for 24 hours. The answers I received were a mixture of men and women, all ages.
The most reoccurring reasons to why 88% of people DO NOT listen to music:
They are there to completely immerse themselves in nature and it’s sounds as well as to be aware of their surroundings.
The reasons 12% of people SOMETIMES listen to music:
To give themselves the push they need to get up an incline or to help distract themselves and get out of their head on a long stretch.
Also in the survey, just for fun I asked the name of artists and songs people enjoy when they DO listen, curious to what types of music give people some drive. Holy variety! It truly fascinates me – what each individual finds motivates them. Some of the music is so opposite of what I would think of or choose for myself.
Here you can find the Spotify playlist I made of the responses. I would suggest shuffling for a better mixture as each song is in order of the suggestions, so some songs may be fairly similar or by the same artist.
I had a handful of repeat artists like Lord Huron, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and The Head and The Heart.
A few people don’t listen to music, but prefer audiobooks or podcasts instead. Common suggestions including Mike Rowe, NPR, Ted Talks and random true crime podcasts. Audio books were hiking or adventure related; Thru Hiking Will Break Your Heart and Into The Wild, some Jack Kerouac, and sci-fi reads. (I mean…listens.)
My overall curiosity is this: can the music that one person listens to when hiking give a different person the same kind of feelings and motivation even if it’s not somebody’s preferred taste? I plan to take this playlist on trail with me to LHX2018 and test that theory.
I will absolutely never be an “all the time” headphone user when I’m hiking. Nobody selected YES to listening always. And rightfully so. We’re all there for one reason; to truly disconnect, right? But I will definitely utilize the boost that music gives me when I’m having a hard day on trail. What about you?