Take a hike! The story behind the slogan

Take a hike! The story behind the slogan

"Take a hike."

We've all heard the expression. 

Why did we choose it as a primary design/slogan at Timpanogos Hiking Co.? And why did it become our most popular T-shirt?

Take a hike collection hoodies and shirts

Look up "take a hike" online and you'll find some interesting (sometimes hilarious) takes on its history and meanings.

Wiktionary: 1. to go hiking. 2. (idiomatic, often imperative) to go away; to leave or depart. 3. I wish that pest would just take a hike.

Cambridge: used to rudely tell someone to leave

Urban Dictionary: polite version of GTFO.

Look. Sometimes you need to politely tell people to .... take a hike.

So where does the expression come from?

The word "hike" can be traced back to the English word "hyke," which first appeared in print in the early 1800s and meant "to walk vigorously."

Hiking was an outgrowth of the Romantic Movement, which, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, called for a return to nature. Romantic poets took inspiration from quiet, solitude, beauty, and dramatic landscapes. 

Casper David Friedrich painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

Those ideas later became central to Transcendentalism in the United States with writers like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman touting the virtues of life away from the corrupting influences of society. 

Still, Transcendentalism aside, hiking (especially hiking mountains) wasn't really popular in the United States until the early 20th century when it suddenly became a cultural phenomenon. It was popularized by writers like John Muir, the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916, and the creation of hiking trails throughout America's vast, diverse landscapes. Hiking was first included in the Forest Service annual report in 1933.

It has grown in popularity ever since.

When exactly the term "take a hike" became a figure of speech is unknown.

It likely emerged around the the mid-20th century -- around the same time as idioms like "hit the road," popularized in early rock and roll.

Of course, the phrase can also just be taken literally.

In 1976, The American Hiking Society established National Take a Hike Day to encourage more people to get out in nature and exercise. Interestingly, it falls on November 17, not exactly peak season for hiking. 

But the broader message has resonated: more people are hiking now than ever before. In fact, according to a Statista study, close to 59 million people in the US reported hiking in 2021. That's more than double the amount that went hiking in 2006!

Why the big spike?

Ironically, as Trail and Summit notes, a big reason seems to be social media: both because people are documenting their adventures more than ever, and because people want to get away from their screens.

man in take a hike hoodie on mountain

In Utah, where Timpanogos Hiking Co. is based, there has been a huge surge in hiking over the past decade as people not only flock to the majestic Wasatch Mountains, but also to its so-called "Mighty 5":  Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capital Reef National Parks.

More and more people are recognizing the beauty of their natural soundings, and not unlike the Romantic Poets, looking for an antidote to the stress and noise of modern society. 

So the "Take a Hike" slogan, for us, is first and foremost, a call to action.

It's a call to get outside and move and sweat and see and do amazing things -- solo or with friends.

Hiking is good for the body and good for the soul. 

But it's also not a bad way to tell certain people around you to GTFO. ;)

girl in a take a hike tanktop

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