People hike for many different reasons. The most obvious reason being that nature is beautiful and usually most beautiful in remote locations. Another popular motivation is staying active because hiking is good exercise.
These are two reasons why I hike, but they aren't the most important ones.
I hike because it provides me a sense of connection and communion with forces so much larger than myself. In my everyday life I'm driving the bus, shaping my reality with the decisions I constantly have to make. What to buy, when to work, how to raise my daughter, and all the concerns that make up my daily life. It's important for my well being that I remind myself just how little power I have in this world. That so much is going on around me that I am insignificant to, and yet an integral part of at the same time. I can see balance in the natural world, where everything is used for the benefit of something else, and there is no waste. A perfect system that is totally independent of human will.
I hike because I need to challenge myself. When I become too comfortable, I need to load my pack and get in the woods for a couple of days. When I am struggling with some life stuff, I need to get in the woods. When I want to show my daughter that life doesn't just happen on concrete...well you see what I'm saying. The mind needs to be free to wander, without the burden of everyday life decisions. Shinrin-yoku, also known as "Forest Bathing", is described this way: "The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved." This practice is a popular method of preventative health care in Japan and is widely accepted in other cultures. This is what keeps me sane!
I hike because...I like to hike.