If you are a frequent visitor to the mountains and often go for walks, you surely know that there is a pleasant habit: to greet all the other hikers you meet on your way. Whether it’s a “ciao”, “buongiorno”, “hi” or “hello” – in the case of foreign tourists – it is extremely natural to greet those who walk in the woods or at high altitudes, even if we do not know them (and probably we will not meet them never again).
In this sense, the mountain is a special place. Unlike what often happens in the city, but also by the sea or in other places, here it is not at all difficult to wish a good day or to simply say a “hello” with a smile to those who are walking, uphill, downhill or flat it makes no difference.
Along the paths we are all the same and we feel part of a common choice: to get in touch with nature and to do it in a “slow” way, without cars but only with the help of our feet and legs. Sometimes along the paths you also meet people on bicycles and a greeting is a must – indeed a pleasure – even in these cases.
In short, between woods and mountains, it is as if one lived a particular sociality, difficult to find elsewhere. It is almost a kind of ritual that of greeting that unites everyone and which sometimes also becomes a moment of exchange and the possibility of meeting new people. For example, it may happen that we need to ask for directions on the path we are following or on what is missing from the longed-for goal.
We are all there, backpackers, intent on getting somewhere, but not forgetting to also (and perhaps above all) enjoy the route, which sometimes challenges us with difficult climbs, but however steep these may be and our shortness of breath, when we meet someone we say hello. And this is contagious, even those who perhaps find themselves in the mountains for the first time almost immediately get used to greeting anyone who crosses their path.
Why do we greet each other in the mountains? There is not a single reason and the precise origin of this “rite” is not known, it is just like that, it is a consolidated habit, as well as a demonstration of kindness, sharing and exchange, which encompasses a single gesture (a smile) and a few words (even a simple hello) all of our humanity.
A perfect moment to reconnect with nature and with others, sharing something beautiful, and also doing a bit of digital detox (which we all deeply need).
As we said, then, the mountain shows us that we are all the same in the face of fatigue but also of the beauty of what surrounds us and our nationality no longer matters, we greet everyone but absolutely everyone, including our four-legged friends who enjoy woods and trails with us.
Saying goodbye in the mountains is also a gesture of solidarity and comfort towards those who may proceed uphill and are a little tired, thus also showing one’s willingness to help in the event of difficult situations.
To those who don’t often go to the mountains, all this may seem strange, but those who are frequent visitors to the mountains know how absolutely natural and spontaneous it is to be healthy, also because perhaps they recognize affinities in others (even just a passion for the mountains).
All this – probably – does not happen anywhere else. As William Blake said: “When men and mountains meet, great things happen”.
There are many reasons to spend a holiday in the mountains or even just have a “hit and run” in the day and we have summarized them in this article.