Hiking culture has seemed to have moved up on the social scale in recent years. After being locked up indoors for so long, it was the outside that provided many of us with comfort. It still continues to. I spoke with Robert Gaynor, a second year Computer Science student and current OCM of Trinity Hiking — a STEM student who ventured his way over to the arts block, which he informed me was unknown territory. After a hike up to the sixth floor, we discussed the ins and outs of Trinity Hiking.
“At every meeting each week we literally just have a big map of the Wicklow mountains spread out in front of us”, explained Gaynor on how the society chooses routes for their hikes. “So, we get the map and we basically decide how difficult we want this hike to be. We like to tick off every level to our members. And we let everyone know in the emails beforehand, of course! We always pick areas that committee are familiar with.” A typical Trinity Hiking morning begins on the bus at 9am, which Gaynor described as “a bit rough and bumpy. There are usually always new faces. I suppose everyones a wee bit quiet first thing in the morning, but you step in some mud and after about half an hour everyone’s chatting.”
Gaynor humbly mentioned that on hikes, the Trinity Hiking committee are always on the lookout for members being too wet or too cold . “We’ve always loads of spare stuff with us just in case. Now, I say this as someone who hasn’t done scouts, but it feels sort of like that.” Inside the college sphere, Trinity Hiking collaborates with a diverse range of other societies. “We’re planning a collab with Environmental Soc to do a clean up. We’ve also been talking with some of the art societies to do a Bob Ross mountain painting night.” Stay tuned on the Trinity Hiking Instagram page.
“These days, the process of getting your hands on a ticket for a Trinity Hiking hike is similar to one for Harry Styles in the Aviva.”
These days, the process of getting your hands on a ticket for a Trinity Hiking hike is similar to one for Harry Styles in the Aviva. With almost every excursion being sold out, Gaynor believes it’s truly something to do with the separation from city life that’s so appealing to a lot of members: “We’re all out in the wilderness. It’s so nice getting away from the city centre, you know one hour on the bus and I can’t see a building for miles. It’s great. I think the people who come along who are the most apprehensive are the ones who enjoy it the most. Sometimes people who come along are like ‘oh, I didn’t realise I needed this.’”
No matter where he ended up, Gaynor knew for definite that he was going to join some sort of hiking group in college. “I’m from the west of Ireland so… There’s not much else to do there.” The county Sligo native’s first hike with the society was at Tonelaghee in the Wicklow mountains. “Most of our hikes on the weekends are in and around the Wicklow mountains. Sometimes for introductory hikes for members or for people wanting something less challenging we’ll head over to Howth or Bray”, he stated. The second year student also revealed that he has loved his time with Trinity Hiking so far and can’t imagine not being involved. “I find what’s nice about doing stuff like hiking is that no one is allowed to have notions. There’s times on hikes when you’ve seen everyone at their worst. I’m making it sound horrible but it’s all fun I promise”, he laughed.
“Hiking is good for your physical health, but I think emotionally it’s also a reset. Fresh air and being with people and having nice views is also a huge booster.”
When asked what he thinks it is about Hiking that appeals to people so much, he first referred to the aesthetics that can often come with the activity: “It’s funny. Like how many people do we know that own a Patagonia jacket of whatever”, he said as I shifted in my Columbia fleece. “Hiking is good for your physical health, but I think emotionally it’s also a reset. Fresh air and being with people and having nice views is also a huge booster.” He explained that being a bit battered by the elements empties one’s head completely. As well as giving you time to think — “You’re concentrating on what you’re doing. Now, I do love hiking when it’s dry and sunny, but I find when it’s wet and windy you can’t have any worries. Your feet aren’t getting any more wet than this. You just accept the situation you’re in and you’re like, I’m just going to enjoy this.”
On why students should join the hiking society, Gaynor began by referring to the “lovely” social side of things that come alive outdoors: “On our hikes, it’s a very wide range of people who aren’t passionate about or like one certain thing. You just get chatting to anyone and everyone. It feels very natural, y’know, more so than a coffee morning. You’re meeting people under low allusions — a human to another human.” For students who don’t fancy nights out or drinking, Trinity Hiking is a great opportunity for day time socialising. The OCM also added that “it’s important for anyone to take some time away from the city and see some trees and some grass and sheep. And Ireland’s simply a beautiful country to see in that way. You don’t realise until you see it that it’s so special.”
Finally, on being asked if there’s any advice he’d give to first time hikers, Gaynor replied: “Good boots. They are very, very important. You need proper ankle support. They don’t need to be fancy expensive brands, but we don’t want any broken ankles around Trinity.” This is your sign to take a break for yourself from being cooped up in lectures or the library. If you feel like doing so within the Trinity community, Trinity Hiking is there and already planning their next hike.