Music has always been an important part of my life. As I’m hiking, I usually have a playlist of songs going through my mind (which has something to do with the rhythm of my steps). When I’m not on the trail and I hear certain songs, they transport me back to the trail. Sometimes it’s a lyric, sometimes it’s a melody. There are dozens of this type of song, but here is a list of my ten favorite ones. I hope you enjoy them too.
10. “Lewis and Clark” – Tommy Emmanuel
This is my only instrumental selection on the list. Even though there are many instrumental pieces that take me to the trail, this one actually makes me feel like I’m with Lewis and Clark on their expedition out West. Beautiful.
9. “The Cave” – Mumford and Sons
It was difficult to choose just one Mumford and Sons song. “Wilder Mind” and “I Will Wait” also feel like the outdoors to me. The first time I said my trail name out loud to someone, it seemed to take on a life of it’s own. “I’ll find strength in pain, and . . . I’ll know my name as it’s called again.”
8. “Mountain Sound” – Of Monsters and Men
This is a relatively new entry to my list and musically, it doesn’t seem to belong, but at the heart of the song lies a vivid picture of bounding wildly up a mountain, through the Colorado woods. “Through the woods we ran, deep into the mountain sound.”
7. “Country Road” – James Taylor
OK, I admit, I don’t like a road walk during my hike any more than any other hiker does, but when I hear this song, I imagine I’m walking on a dirt road and the road is running alongside farms and pastures in Virginia on the way to the next adventure. “Carolina on My Mind” is way up on the list as well.
6. “Destination” – Nickel Creek
Again, my dilemma is, which Nickel Creek song to choose? “Out of the Woods” would be appropriate. “Pastures New”? Yes and yes. But every day at about dinnertime, after hiking ten or so miles, I find myself thinking, “I’ve gotta make a destination”.
5. “The Long Way Home” – Norah Jones
When this song comes on, I’m taken to the backroads of Georgia and North Carolina which usually end up being the longest way possible to get anywhere. “I love you pretty baby, but I always take the long way home.”
4. “Ends of the Earth” – Lord Huron
I’m glad someone turned me on to Lord Huron. Their music is consistently outdoorsy. “There’s a mountain no man has mounted, I’m gonna stand on the peak.” This guy has to be a hiker, right? “To the ends of the earth, would you follow me? There’s a world that was meant for us to see” – like every single National Park! These guys get it. Thank you, Lord Huron. (P.S. You can also hear the song in the movie ‘Walk in the Woods’.)
3. “Walk Unafraid” – First Aid Kit
I know this is a cover of an R.E.M. song, so R.E.M. fans, please don’t be upset with me, but there is something about modern bluegrass artists from Norway (or Sweden or something) doing this song for the ‘Wild’ soundtrack that works. “I’ll trip, fall, pick myself up, and walk unafraid.” Yep, I’ve done that a couple of times.
2. “The Longer I Run” – Peter Bradley Adams
If you’ve never heard the album ‘Leavetaking’ by Peter Bradley Adams, and you call yourself a hiker, I encourage you to stop what you’re doing and listen to it NOW! He ought to be named the official bard of the Appalachian Trail. I can’t say enough about EVERY song on the album (“Always”, “Song for Viola”, “Ohio”). “If I wander until I die, may I know whose hand I’m in.”
1. “Rise” – Eddie Vedder (or, more accurately, the entire ‘Into the Wild’ soundtrack)
I had to just close my eyes and point to pick a song off of this album. Every single one is incredible. “Rise” says, “Gonna rise up and find my direction magnetically”, which I think is awesome. “Society”, “Hard Sun”, “No Ceiling”, and “Tuolumne” could just as easily be in the number one spot. My only complaint is that this album is so short! I just put it on repeat and listen to it for hours.
Well, these are my favorite songs that transport me back to the trail in my mind. I’m sure you have some of your own. I’d love to hear them. If you want to follow my entire hiking playlist, it is on Spotify and is called ‘Nickel Creek Style’.