View Full Version : Return Environments

05-29-2016, 13:52
Found this to explain some attitudes/behaviors pertaining to LD hiking.


Not so overwhelmed seeking barbecue, beer, and burnt skin today…unless it's at a secluded CS.

05-29-2016, 14:21
A LD hike sounds like an immediate return environment. That is the part of the hike that is so difficult to explain to folks that haven't done a long (multi-month) hike.

05-29-2016, 17:54
My immediate exact thoughts too. Explains at least partly why a LD hike is so satisfying also.

05-30-2016, 09:29
Love the article. Puts some things in perspective. I think any hike at all, short or long is an IME. It brings immediate return and has nothing to do with anything but the present enjoyment of being outdoors and enjoying life.

map man
05-30-2016, 11:24
Some thoughts on a thought-provoking article:

At the start of every section hike I've taken I feel the transition from "Delayed" return to "Immediate" return profoundly. The couple of days before the hike starts there is "hope I don't have car trouble on the long drive to the trailhead" and "hope the motel didn't mess up my reservations" and "hope my shuttle driver meets me where and when we arranged" anxieties. All of these involve taking some action that doesn't have an immediate payoff and doing some worrying about it. And then the moment I'm dropped off at the trailhead, strap on the pack and start walking a big weight disappears. Ah yes, I have moved into the realm of immediate returns.

I do think our species has had a little bit of time to let evolutionary forces better equip us for the delayed return environment. Humans in some cultures have been practicing agriculture for thousands of years and that involves planting something knowing we won't receive the benefits for some months or years. Also some humans moved into cold climates tens of thousands of years ago and that often means putting food away in the warm months to see us through the winter. So luckily our hard wiring can help us out at least a little bit with the delayed gratification business.

And speaking of delayed gratification, that reminds me of a famous study. One tasty treat to eat was given to children. But they were told if they could wait an hour before eating it that they could have two instead. Then the researchers followed over time the group that ate the one treat right away, and the other group that waited for two. Even after controlling for various socio-economic factors they found that on average the group that could delay gratification as children went on to have significantly more economic success as adults. How much the ability to delay gratification is "nature" and how much "nurture" I couldn't tell you.

In any case, the article was worth the read. Thanks for linking to it, Dogwood.

05-30-2016, 13:27
Often we've seen new young posters here say things like "I wanna quit my job/school/life and go hike" for me this is hard to grasp. Having delayed goals and doing things like putting a retirement package together, working hard and giving up the "hear and now" allows me to do whatever I want later on down the road and focus on the hear and now immediate return a long distance hike provides. So for me I do and have done both. Thanks for the article.