10 Inspiring TED Talks on Hiking and the Outdoors to Watch During Lockdown

10 Inspiring TED Talks on Hiking and the Outdoors to Watch During Lockdown

Category Books And Film Recommendations Trekker Space

By Latika Payak


I want to share a special list with you today. It’s a list of TED Talks on hiking and the outdoors. And there are two reasons why this list is special.

First, these TED Talks can change the way you think. I say this because they changed the way I look at things, especially trekking and our relationship with nature.

And second, they are suggested by Lakshmi Selvakumaran, Head Of Green Trails and Training at Indiahikes, who deepens the perspective with candid insights on TED Talks she connected with.

Towards the end, you will also find inspiring TED Talks featuring leaders at Indiahikes.

So, if you’ve been searching for a dollop of inspiration – here it is! Watch these, and tell us – which ones inspired you the most?

1. The 2,185 Mile Hike

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Lakshmi shares: Last week, Sandhya UC, Co-Founder/COO of Indiahikes, shared an article talking about the need to rethink our way of learning post COVID. The article was very thought-provoking. The author, an expert in the field of education, makes a case for using this opportunity to rethink and perhaps, reboot the way our Indian education system is set.

I couldn’t agree more. Most of you, I am sure, also agree with her.

This article made me realize something. Treks present an opportunity for kids to learn to be better human beings – being self-sufficient, caring, compassionate and resilient is naturally built into treks. Something we call Experiential Education.

So, how would it be to imagine a future education system that incorporates experiential learning through outdoors?

That brings me to this video. I cannot imagine an 8 and 9-year-old completing a 2,185-mile hike. But they did. I can bet they are better adapted to tackle the world and its uncertainties much more than many of the adults I know around me. So if anything, it made me realize that experiential learning is something we must strongly consider as a way of preparing kids for life.

I know you must be thinking – not all kids can go on a similar journey. I agree with you. But I do think, trekking and outdoors in general, however, difficult they are, brings the same effect on kids. That should get us thinking.

In this video: David Kallin, an outdoor adventurer set off on a courageous journey with his family. This was the 2,185 mile Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine. This spanned over five months. And David got on the stage for this TED Talk on hiking to share how he saw his kids – aged 8 and 9 – step out, struggle and adjust to the wild.

2. Get Hooked on Nature

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Lakshmi shares: It is the same reason here. Our children are spending more time indoors than outdoors. Our kids are more scared of elements of nature they are unfamiliar with, and it is sad. Many of our kids are losing their basic instincts – curiosity towards nature and its elements. In the long run, our children will lose out.

They will be unprepared for life. They will mentally and physically face the brunt of it. We can change this. That is why I feel this video is another relevant one we need to watch.

In this video: Ben Klasky, CEO of IslandWood, points at a serious problem – kids are not spending enough time outdoors. In this TED Talk on hiking, he offers a peek into his personal life and talk about how he manages to coax his children to step out and explore. He talks about innovative ways that nudge us to think out of the box.

3. To South Pole and Back – The Hardest 105 Days of My Life

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Lakshmi shares: Moving away from this topic, this next video is pure adventure.  Locked inside the home, our adventures are different (mine is in ensuring that I cook, clean, work, workout, catch up with friends and family and finish all the free online courses I signed up for).

But I do miss the outdoors.  I have started forgetting how cold it was last January in the mountains.  But this video brought me all of those memories back and in a good way.  So, enjoy!

In this video: In 1912, Captain Robert Falcon Scott set off on a polar expedition. But was unsuccessful. So, explorer Ben Saunders stepped up to complete it. He set off on a four-month, 1,800-mile round trip journey from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. And just five months after his return, Ben got on the stage to talk about it.

4. Everest the Harder Way

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Lakshmi shares: This video is pure inspiration. This talk reminded me of a memoir I read – The climb of my life. The memoir is the story of a woman with a transplanted heart who scales all the top peaks in the world. I was crying by the end of the book.

The sheer determination and spirit to achieve much beyond oneself against all odds gives me goosebumps all the time. It makes my problems trivial.

This talk is very similar. While I am sitting inside home, it is giving me all the courage and motivation to scale my own challenges with a smile.

In this video: Nick Talbot suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. But that didn’t deter Nick Talbot. Even though he suffered from cystic fibrosis, a severe genetic condition that affected his lungs, he set out to climb Mt. Everest.

In this talk, Nick takes us through his arduous climb and what happened when natural disaster struck, not once, but twice when he attempted to climb the highest mountain in the world.

5. How Adventure Makes You Smarter, Stronger and Attractive

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Lakshmi shares: This is one of the most engaging TED talks I have ever seen. I was laughing almost the entire talk. But I was also relating to every single thing he said. I have had my fair share of adventures and misadventures and they have made me the person I am. They have helped me become smart, strong and perhaps more attractive.

To the point, I wish misadventures to all people in life – because what is life without such fun.

So sit back and enjoy his talk. You will be nodding your head going, Yes, Yes, YES! or you will want to plan your next adventure when all of this gets over.

In this video: Tyler Tervooren, an independent entrepreneur, has stumbled upon a formula to harness the power of our brains, especially while navigating high-risk and high-stress situations. In this talk, he explains how combining passion and intuition with research and strategy can take the human mind to places.

You can find more information on Tyler’s risk tests, and adventure strategies at http://riskology.co

6. Prescribing Nature for Health

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Lakshmi shares: This video reminded me of my recent trek to Brahmatal. It was not a normal trek. It was a trek with my team of 10 trek leaders. We were training while trekking.

Each day, Trek Leaders were taking turns to facilitate the trek. We were using the opportunity to learn from each other and make our own trek activities better.

On the first day, when we reached a part of the forest, the trek leader of the day stopped us. He gathered all of us. It was foggy. Beautiful trees around. He asked us to pick a tree, go to it, hug it and share a secret with the tree.

It felt odd at first. But I noticed that each of us unconsciously picked a tree and went towards it.

Soon, we all forgot everyone around us and focused on an intense conversation with the tree.

The silence was too powerful. All I could hear was myself and the sound of a stream flowing by (which I hadn’t noticed until then). I didn’t have anything to share. So I just talked to the tree. I noticed it, observed the tiniest details and hugged it for as long as I can.

After some time we all came back. I could see that this small exercise had deeply affected all of us. It was visible on our faces and in our silence.

We felt connected and a lot of us felt lighter, peaceful. For me, that instance stands out as a reminder of the healing power of nature.

This speaker shares the same thought, the same philosophy. I wish I can take you and make you find your tree, hug it and build a relationship with it. But for the moment, I want to leave you with a strong reminder of the potential nature has to heal us and make us better.

In this video: Thanks to the lockdown, we won’t take venturing out for granted now. But as Lakshmi mentioned, there’s another reason why you should step out of the house and into a natural space. In this inspiring TED Talk, Dr. Nooshin Razani touches upon the healing power of nature. In fact, she officially prescribes it to treat health conditions.

7. How Trekking can Make You Mentally Fit!

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In this inspiring TED talk on hiking, Arjun Majumdar, Founder-CEO of Indiahikes, talks about the impact of trekking. Here, more than the physical transformation, Arjun focusses on how treks can change mental makeups. Watch it to get a holistic perspective on what really happens when you trek.

8. How I Climbed the Mountain of Entrepreneurship

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Sandhya Chandrashekharayya, Co-Founder/COO of Indiahikes, takes the conversation one step further with this TED Talk on hiking. She talks about how trekking turned her into an entrepreneur. Here, she takes you along on a journey filled with passion and challenges. Sandhya certainly knows a thing or two about living her life to the fullest.

9. Life’s Short! Work Somewhere Awesome

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In this thought provoking TED Talk, Swathi Chatrapathy, our Chief Editor from the Digital Content team shares her wisdom and her thoughts are fresh, insightful and full of practicality.

Swathi talks about what it means to make your work your identity (it is a new thought), why the “why” of working is even more important and finally she dwells on the much debated work-life balance and comes up with her own understanding of it.

10. Treks Without Trails

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Finally, here’s Lakshmi in her element, pointing at some simple, yet brilliant ideas to make a positive impact on the environment. In this video, she talks about making a behavioural change, especially with respect to trekking. So as a trekker, if you wish to make an impact and leave the mountains greener, this TED Talk on hiking is a must-watch.


If you think we missed out on any TED Talk on hiking, please mention it in the comments below. We would love to add it in our list.

Stay at home. Stay inspired. And, stay safe!

Latika Payak

Senior Content Writer

About the author

Latika is a Senior Content Writer and one of the rare team members who has seen Indiahikes from its initial days. She was among the first few to begin creating content at Indiahikes, documenting treks around Maharasthra, interviewing trekkers and writing their stories.

Latika started trekking after joining Indiahikes and has trekked to Roopkund, Hampta Pass, Kedarkantha, Dayara Bugyal, Tarsar Marsar, and Har Ki Dun.

With a strong background in print media and have worked with several publications. Latika is always hunting for great stories hidden in the folds of the mountains. Horror stories from ancient routes and villages of the Himalayas are her favourite.

She is presently working on bringing out news from the remote trekking regions of our country.