Hiking has created an avenue for us to talk, share opinions, reason together and understand our differences. I must add that it has reduced the amount of idleness we find ourselves in as young people, which has helped in curbing evil desires
Hiking is becoming a popular activity in Nigeria. People from different backgrounds, religions and ethnic groups now engage in this outdoor activity, which entails a vigorous walk around the environment to enjoy fresh air, exercise and explore the beauty of nature, usually around mountainous areas.
During my first hiking experience, the notion I had of a thorough workout was disproved by the overwhelming effect of breathtaking views of nature and new discoveries.
The rocks, colourful flowers, green-grassy plains and waterfalls, all displayed an overwhelming landscape that somehow took away the agony of climbing up and down slopes as we trudged the distance.
The A’cube Hiking Group, which vision is to inspire a new era of love as the watchword in Jos, the Plateau State capital, gave me an unforgettable hiking experience filled with lessons that will last a lifetime.
We had more than four hours of hiking journey, which started from Farin Gada, as well as two hours of climbing mountains behind the ECWA Staff School. There was also an hour of learning how to swim in the Beyla Waterfall, after which we rounded off with an hour of discussion about life as youths.
Peter Daniel, the co-founder of the A’cube Hiking Group, said he loved hiking because its experience was helping to shape him into a loving person.
“I love nature and adventures. I’ll gladly indulge in anything that will expose me to these two. I hike to experience and appreciate nature, as well as take pictures of beautiful sceneries and perspectives. The adventurous journey is a plus.
“I hike to have some lone time to clear my head, think, plan, pray and write.
“Also, the fun cannot be relegated. Hiking with friends, families, and sometimes new people, is really fun. The laughter, merriment, the eating and the risk; yes risk, are really recreational for me. Not forgetting new friends and getting to know the old ones even better,” Daniel said.
He further said hiking had been a great channel to curb idleness and disunity, especially in the lives of Jos youths, who enjoy sharing and encouraging one another.
“I will like to first make the point that without peace, we can’t hike. Our hiking journey so far has brought different tribes, religions and people with different beliefs together under the umbrella of fun, relaxation and passion.
“Hiking has created an avenue for us to talk, share opinions, reason together and understand our differences. I must add that it has reduced the amount of idleness we find ourselves in as young people, which has helped in curbing evil desires,” he added.
According to Daniel, grippy but light shoes; light clothes; advisably, long trousers (in case of thorns); dark glasses; backpack, containing light snacks, water/ energy drink; face towel; camera/ phone; any form of identification and money, are the basic needs for hiking. Also needed are first aid materials (plasters, pain relieving drugs, glucose, methylated spirit, cotton wool) in case of injury.
He said hiking could foster peace and unity, which a country needs to grow.
“Discoveries of beautiful places and sceneries can bring investors to develop parks, game reserves, resorts, among others. This helps in creating more attractive places for tourists, which will create job opportunities and boost our economy,” he further said.
On the challenges of hiking, Daniel said, “One rule in hiking is: All for one and one for all. So sometimes when something happens to one person, it affects the whole movement. Sometimes the weak ones slow the movement.
Fear is another challenge as it cripples the set goals of a hiking group.”
He, however, said these challenges had taught him how to trust, tolerate and appreciate the dynamism in people. The challenges have also boosted his thinking and communication skills, while teaching him how to appreciate God for everything, from nature to all its inhabitants.
Abdulfatia Abdulatif, a photographer, said hiking was a better way to see the world and explore a few hours away from the city. He said the experience had helped him to appreciate life and diversity in people. He added that hiking had exposed him to people who patronised his trade.
“Hiking has been fun and refreshing for me. It has really helped and still helping to bridge the gap between religious and cultural diversity among Jos youths. Through hiking, I have met people from different parts of Nigeria, and we still keep in touch. I sometimes visit them.
“When hiking, I forget about our differences in tribe, religion, culture and belief. This helps us to curb the desire to look down on one another easily because good relationships have been created from all the interactions and times spent together.
“Nigeria is a beautiful country with captivating landscapes waiting to be explored; and hiking is a way to get nature to bring us together, irrespective of who you are,” he said.
Also, Jamkat Jennifer Amehze, a seamstress, believes that hiking has helped in building peace and promoting unity in Jos.
“There is a sense of togetherness when hiking, as we have the opportunity to help one another, especially when climbing hills, to achieve our goal.
Expressing her thoughts on her first hiking experience she said, “I was a little unsure about going because it was out of my comfort zone. So I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what food or snack to bring and the appropriate cloths to wear, but I am glad I hiked. It was fun and I loved it!” she said.
Similarly, Gideon Numdy Zomo said hiking was one way the society could promote unity and peace, adding that his perspective about other people’s beliefs and cultures has become more accommodating as a result of interaction with different people.
“When hiking, Christians, Muslims and traditionalists come together and relate with one another as one family. Personally, I have met a lot of people from other religions who are now my friends. And we do so many other things together, even after hiking.
“I think hiking is one of the coolest things to do in promoting peace.
“The aspect of one-on-one discussion with someone you are meeting for the first time helps you to create a new relationship, which in turn teaches you to accommodate and respect other people’s ways of life,” he said.
Zomo said hiking had revealed some hidden sites that could attract tourists to Nigeria and serve as a source of income and employment to many youths.
“We have discovered waterfalls, swimmable lagoons and mini pools that can attract tourists to our country.
“A lot of Nigerians travel to Hawaii and pay millions to have the same fun. I think we should bring this back home and develop our country so that others can come and pay the same fee to have fun here,” he said.
Zomo called on both the government and sponsors to support and encourage youths who use hiking to promote peace and unity in the state.
While hiking, getting to know the right locations and how to navigate your way is very important. Because of this, Dung Noah Dung, a shoe designer and maker, who was also referred to as “our map,” became our guide.
As his nickname implies, Dung was always a mile ahead to direct us to beautiful locations because he is very familiar with the mountains and all the beautiful locations we needed to explore.
He said familiarising with mountains was a normal thing for him because he was born and brought up in a mountainous area.
Dung revealed that hiking became part of his life and source of income after a friend introduced him to it four years ago.
So far, he has been able to discover beautiful sites like the Kura Falls, Kerang Spring, Farin Ruwa Waterfall, among others.
He said hiking could bring a country or state to limelight while promoting peace and unity.
“Hiking improves cordial relationships, which in turn foster teamwork and increase productivity.
“In the aspect of tourism and peace, more can be discovered from hiking as it creates a platform for different people with different beliefs to come together on a different level. So I encourage corporate organisations to indulge in hiking,” Dung said.
A’ cube Hiking Group at Old Lamingo dam, Etobaba mountains, Jos
Old Lamingo dam, Etobaba, Jos
The group while hiking at Old Lamingo dam, Etobaba mountains, Jos
The A’ cube Hiking Group exploring Beyla Mountains, behind ECWA Staff School, Jos
The group displays at Old Lamingo dam, Etobaba mountains, Jos