A Walk or A Hike?

April 20, 2017
Mirror Lake
Roundtrip distance: 7.44 miles

What is the difference between hiking and walking?  Wikipedia says: Hiking is the preferred term for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails, in the countryside; the word walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks.

Creamy-blossomed dogwoods

One evening during a parish dinner, an acquaintance asked if I would like to go for a walk in Yosemite.  The dogwoods were flowering and it had been four months since my last visit to the park, so I said yes.  In my mind, walk meant hike, but I was unsure of Mary’s intention.


We made plans to meet early in the morning.  Mary suggested we head to Mirror Lake.  As we walked, I told her how I acquired the trail name of Scorpion and what it meant.  She told of how she belayed her husband when his cell phone dropped down a steep embankment.  I was impressed and figured that she was up for this hike.


The path led through a boggy fen.  We were both excited to see a large American black bear a comfortable distance away.  We watched it feed before moving on.

Leaving the fen, we followed a paved road—open only to pedestrians, bicyclists, busses and vehicles with handicapped placards—an easy walk.  We talked so much that I was unaware we had been heading uphill with Tenaya Creek rushing downhill beside us.

Tenaya Creek

Stark white and buttery yellow dogwood flowers bloomed underneath a variety of taller trees.


The paved road ended at Mirror Lake which is where our walk should have ended.

Approaching Mirror Lake.

Instead we decided to hike the trail around the lake.  There were many blow downs scattered around the footpath.  NPS usually clears the way on high traffic trails, but had yet to do so.  We pulled ourselves up and over the downed logs.

Mirror Lake reflecting the rock.

At times the trail was a muddy mess.  Other sections were deep with water.  (Is this indicative of the trails this hiking season?)  To keep from getting wet, we teetered atop lily pad-like logs that bobbed up and down with each step we took.

Mt. Watkins

I put my camera away after banging it while climbing over a table-sized boulder.  We were dirty and sweaty—and I would not have changed a minute of the circuitous hike.

Mt. Watkins reflected in Mirror Lake.

What a joy it was getting to know Mary.  She was quite a sport seeing as this was her first hike over two miles long, something I learned after we had already started.  She joked that she was “stung by the Scorpion”Next time I will be clear about distance and whether we are going for a hike or a walk.

Half Dome in the background.

We rested in the shade at a picnic table.  It was then that Mary mentioned her back problem.  What a trooper, never once during the hike did she complain.  I hope she will consider joining me again one day out on the trails of Yosemite National Park.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out until sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  —John Muir