Where’s the line between a walk and a hike? They both consist of covering ground by repeatedly putting one foot in front of the other without falling down.
Is it a matter of where you walk? We don’t say we hike around the block.
Is it the distance? Would circling the block all day turn it into a hike?
Is it about difficulty? Is a trail up a mountain hike-ier than a trail across flat land? Even if the latter is longer?
Is it about the pace? There’s no ambling, no moseying, no lallygagging in hiking, right?
Is it the degree of remoteness? Do we need to be out in the boonies before that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing can be called a hike?
Is it about the gear you take—or don’t take—with you? If you don’t have special shoes, a pack, water, food, a first aid kit, maps, GPS, and trekking poles, are you simply on a walk or just insufficiently unprepared for a hike?
Maybe it boils down to intent. When I stepped out of the Rolling Steel Tent this afternoon I was just going to wander in the desert a bit. Get some easy exercise. Just, you know, go for a walk. I had covered about three miles by the time I got back. There were some hike-ish aspects to the walk—going in and out of washes, sidestepping minor obstacles, pushing through some vegetation—but mostly I just walked across the gravely alluvial plain. At an energetic, but not cardio-stressing, pace. Since I’ve been living in this particular patch of desert for about a week, I guess you could say I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Or a hike.