More Than a Mountain


Kyle Espinola, a hiker with philosophical tendencies, analyzes a mountain as a symbol of tradition and accomplishment.

photo by Luca Bravo

photo by Luca Bravo


How often would you say that you hike?

I try to go as much as I can, if I had to put a number on it I would say that I try get up there five or more times a summer.

When was the last time you hiked?

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to hike for over a month now. The last place I went to was Mount Monadnock in Jeffery, New Hampshire. It's my favorite spot to hike, and also the most continent. It’s the most convenient mountain to me, but it has a variety of different trails, ranging from a two–mile hike to a seven–mile hike, each trail with its own specific challenges. 

What about that mountain do you like?

For me, specifically, it’s my favorite because of the memories along with my tradition I have to hike it at the end of every school year.

How did that tradition come about?

I don’t know? Honestly, It was a spur of the moment idea. I still remember a few years back one my first hike that started the tradition. It was about three years ago, and I texted all my friends, but none of them could hike. I did it anyway. It was a cloudy and muddy day, but it still hiked up and down.  Its funny when I look back, it was such a bad day for a hike, and I almost got lost in the fog on the way back down the mountain, but it still started the tradition. The memory will always  make me laugh at myself because of the choice I made that day. It was incredible dangerous and foolish to hike in those conditions. But hey, it all worked out for the best, and now I’m left with a great memory. 

And what feeling is that, when you complete a hike?

Accomplishment, you spend two hours or more, putting yourself through this tiring and really non-fun activity, where you sweat profusely and get eaten alive by bugs. When you get to the top of the mountain though, man let me tell you, its fucking beautiful. The view and the self-accomplishment you get makes it all worth it. Hiking is for everyone. Its a great stress reliever. When you’re upset or stressed or anything, a hike makes you forget all about the troubles you have. You’re so focused on getting to the top of the mountain, and when you finally do, you’re so happy with yourself that whatever made you upset isn’t your main focus. Anyone can do it to, I have seen children, elderly people, obese people, and even pregnant woman hike. I have met people who use hiking as a way to lose weight as well.

Do you have any preference of going alone?

No, no preference really. I like going with my friends a lot because they make it more fun. Being with my friends while we hike makes me enjoy more. This is not to say I do not like hiking alone, when I go alone though it is because I need some alone time. It provides me with the amount of alone time I need, and is calming enough where it only calms me.

Has hiking helped you out physically?

Well, it’s different. It’s hard to compare it to something like running, when it is a different exercise all together. I burn more calories during a hike than during a run and it helps boost my stamina. I do not do it simply as a workout though; to me the calories burned are only second to the hike itself.

When you get to the top of the mountain though, man let me tell you, its fucking beautiful. The view and the self-accomplishment you get makes it all worth it.

You talk as if the hike is more than a hike, can you explain?

Well, like I said it is more than a hike, it’s more than a physical rush, but the mental side of the hike is just as important to me. I look at a mountain and I do not always see the mountain, sometimes I see a challenge that I have to prove to myself I can overcome. Sometimes I see my own personal challenges in the mountain, and hiking them helps me overcome my personal issues. Like I said the hike makes me feel so amazing when I reach that peak, that I could care less most of the time if I burn 200 calories or 2000 calories.

Do you use social media while hiking?

I mean besides Instagram or Pandora for music, not I cannot say I do.

Is there a reason?

Well, I like Instagram so I can take a picture, but at the same time I only post like one photo, because I do not want to brag. I feel that if I post long things on Facebook or twitter or blow up Instagram with pictures, I take the accomplishment out of it, and instead make it seem as if I am bragging. I do not want to brag because I do not want to discourage anyone from hiking, I do not want people to think that I am pompous for hiking or that I am so awesome because of what I did, and the last thing I want people to think is that hiking is for in shape people only. I have friends that can be easily discouraged by something like that, and that’s not something I want.

Q&AJosh Baker