Hiking is My Faith

Someone recently asked what does my Instagram bio, Hiking is my faith, and I’m its devotee, mean. So, this week I decided to share why hiking is good for my soul:

1. It helps me reconnect with myself

“On top [and] looking down at creation”

This is how I shut down the “noise”. I trek miles just to listen to my inner voice.

2. It makes me happy

Comfort after walking in the rain, all day.

It’s the simple things, really. If I have a shelter, clothes are dry and stomach is full, I’m happy as Larry.

3. It boost my creativity

Creating in the wild

When the story burns, no amount of mosquitoes can distract; literally and metaphorically speaking.

4. It reminds me to be grateful

That small hut is a luxury

It’s easy to take things you have for granted. I tell you, a lavatory in the wild is a luxury!

5. It helps me to let go of hurt and anger

Adding a rock to the summit cairn

By the time I reach a summit, my world is as it should be; in harmony. Btw, there’s a story behind that photo; a memoir I decided not to publish, after all. And there’s a story too, behind that decision.

Now your turn, in what ways do you take care of yourself?

Occasionally, I share five random things I’m reading, watching, doing and thinking about. You’re most welcome to join the conversation.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. Wonderful hiking photos. You really get into nature. Now I am wondering the story behind the cairn. 🙂 I love nature but am also spoiled by modern basics so camping and such are too uncomfortable for me. However nature is also my go to for regenerating the spirit. Be it a mountain hike or a stroll through gardens, they have the same positive effect.

  2. Can totally relate. Used to do this weekly when I lived in the mountains. Love the photos. Thanks for sharing your trek!

  3. Lovely to get a glimpse of information ‘about you’. Yes the poems are you but I find them cryptic (insert a smiley face here).
    If you were still in South Africa we definitely would have crossed paths as the indigenous hiking community is still small due to the cost of exploring nature (travel, apparel, entrance fees, time). We are meeting each other in the commercial spaces such as hiking The Otter, Drakensberg, Amathole mountains, etc. Am I right when I assume you are allowed to venture into any forest or hills that call your heart in your country? As in, you do not have to worry about finding yourself with a gun in your face because there was no sign the property belongs to Oom Potgieter (trespassing) and no worry you might get raped by fleeing vegabonds?

  4. I can’t hike miles and miles and miles anymore (or, at the moment). But, when my body and soul where in balance, I did and it was glorious. In those days, running was my trip into the heart of Nature–hearing my heart pump living blood into my muscles, watching the world still and moving while I ran, pound dirt as the effort reminded my muscle we are alive, well… that was therapy. Today, I still devour some distance (but slower). I see more, in my slow walks (and the thrilled is just as soul-cleansing).

    Hope we get to know that story some day. 😉

  5. I love hiking. Your reasons resonated with me. I also run for the endorphins and dance for the physical manifestation of self-expression. Then, of course, I write.

  6. Thanks Val. Yes I do go all the way with hiking (and camping for weeks in the wild), and this is what I mean by being my faith. 😀

    Yes, I’ve gathered from your blog that you are also a nature lover. And I agree, nature is all around us. We don’t always need to trek up the mountains to get that peace of mind. A stroll through the gardens also works perfectly well.

  7. Yes, the beach sometimes provides that ME time and space to be. But I have to confess, only if I go for morning walks when no-one is around. Otherwise, I tend to get distracted with all the people watching to do. 😀

  8. I’m glad you’re enjoying my ‘many facets’. 🙂

    About poems…
    the easiest way to understand a poem is reading it word by word and have a real good ear to listen. Because more often that not (at least, with mine) there’s no hidden meaning. I try not to hide behind metaphors. 😀

    As for hiking in South Africa, I know first hand that it can be tricky with the obstacles you mention. But it’s doable nonetheless, with hiking groups as you mentioned. Also going with a car to national parks and such, and then hike the trails within to your heart’s content is what we do, when we are there. But yes one needs to be extra vigilant there.

    And you are correct we have no such problem of Oom Potgieter here. We have what is known as Everyman’s right, that is, everyone is free to roam around nature respectfully and put the tent up whenever you want to rest. There also many huts for hikers as well, to spend the night.

  9. Uh I see how you understood my view of poems. I didn’t mean your poems are difficult to understand. I meant, I find all poems difficult to understand. No matter how simple the lovers of poetry find them. My brain is probably not trained to see the obvious as soon as it knows its a poem. I love mathematical formulae, they are as clear as day to me and beautiful. What some people feel when they see the sigma notation in front of the formula and look away from the rest of the formula because their brains can’t make sense of the numbers and symbols that come afterwards, is what happens to my brain as soon as it sees the stanza format of poetry.

    It sounds wonderful where you live, huts and pitching tents freely. I hope South Africa gets to see a glimpse of Everyman’s right in my lifetime.

  10. LOL! I have no love mathematical formulae, and now I understand what you mean with poetry. 😀

    My hope is the same for South Africa. We’ll have to keep faith!

  11. The description of your days of pounding dirt is so vivid. I can almost feel the energy and hear your heart pulsate. You are lucky to have experience that thrilling feel from the run. I was never a runner. 🙂

    And like you, I hike at a slow pace but my feet and knees are still able to carry me miles and miles for weeks, if needed. It’s something I don’t take for granted.

    As for the story, let’s just say I learned the most valuable lesson about writing…”Protect your first drafts like you would your newborn baby.”

    That story perhaps, will never see light of day in its original form. But as you know there are many ways to tell a story. For one, the whole experience surrounding that story inspired a whole novel. The one, I’m busy querying at the moment. 😀

  12. I’m super pleased to hear my reasons resonated with you, and that we share the love of hiking. I can only imagine endorphins produced by running as I’m not a runner. I also love that dance is a manifestation of self-expression, how awesome! And then, of course, you are such a talented writer. 🙂 Thank you Christina for sharing how you feed your soul.

  13. That’s some hard-core hiking! I’d like to try that one of these days. LOL, my idea of hiking is wandering around the “gentleman’s woods” (small nature preserves – a bathroom with running water is at most 15 minutes away) of Bucks County, and maybe sit by a creek and listen to the water. It does seem really rewarding to immerse yourself in nature that way.

    Tea is one way I take of myself. But I’ve learned to appreciate the charms of physical activity too. My job is very sedentary, if I let it be. Moving around even if I’m just dancing like a teenager in my living room feels good.

  14. LOL to “hard-core hiking”.😀 I never thought of it like that but just myself as an experienced hiker.

    You should try it some day. But I must warn you this kind of hiking/backpacking needs careful preparation, e.g. weight of your bag matters, proper hiking boots are needed, etc.

    But your “gentleman’s woods” sounds beautiful and peaceful with creeks; a place to visit often or for day trips. Nature is really generous, there’s so much to do outdoors.

    Then there’s always blasting the stereos and dancing like a teenager. I can imagine you doing this.😂

    But it is your Japanese tea practice that intrigues me most. There’s something so spiritual about it; an extraordinary way to take care of self.

  15. *giggle* Yeah, I’ve been known to dance around like a kid. And by “been known” I mean I did it this morning. 😀

  16. Khaya, you look great out hiking in the wilderness! How you can concentrate on writing in the midst of all the mosquitoes is impressive…. true dedication to the craft! 😀 The harmony of hiking is evident in your words, poems but now you have me intrigued. A memoir never to be published? Will you ever reconsider? Happy Hiking and here’s to harmony within oneself! ❤️🌺

  17. Those are great photos! I don’t have that much hiking ground going on near me though. I must be really fun doing all of that!

  18. LOL about ‘true dedication’. It’s more like being hijacked by the muse. 😀

    Most times, I go hiking to empty my mind and just be. But then words / poems start to form without much effort.

    But with that unpublished (short) memoir, the aim was to do the opposite; purge anger and hurt after learning something that made me question what I thought I knew about my childhood. Purge, I did. 😀

    Will I ever reconsider? One of the challenges, for me, with writing a memoir is to write personally without hurting my relationships. Family has a tendency to “insert” or look for themselves in your writing, and total miss the point of the story because they are busy concerned (or don’t like ) about how they sound or made to sound.

    All I can say, thank the gods for fiction. 😀

  19. That’s what I’ve heard. It’s been years since I tried hiking. Good to know that I don’t need much to do that. Thanks!

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