Hi everyone! One of the most popular activities today would probably be hiking. All around my social media feed, I see photos of hikes to different mountains and undeniably, my blog has been mostly about my trips to the mountains (itinerary, cost breakdown, etc.). But I realized that I never really got to sit down and share about what I think about hiking and what it has done for me.
So this blog post will focus mainly on those.
Aside from the LNT (Leave No Trace) principles that every hiker should follow, there are a couple of more lessons that the mountains and/or hiking has taught me. During my one year and three months in hiking, I have been really grateful for the experiences ranging from life-threatening to life-rejuvenating.
Lesson 1: Always find something to look forward to
There have been many instances along the trail where I would think of why I was even there to begin with either because of fatigue caused by endless assaults and/or the heat of the sun or because the trail is really scary and can put me in danger if I am not careful. Then again good things never come easy. And by good, I mean the view from the summit and the feeling of fulfillment upon reaching the top. When you look forward to experiencing something good, it motivates you to push further.
And in whatever you decide to pursue in life, always remember that there will be tough times – a lot of them, which would make you want to give up. During times like this, just think about what lies ahead of you or why you even chose to pursue that in the first place. That should give you a boost to help you get over that bump in the road.
PS: Oftentimes, when I am scheduled for a hike, I get so motivated to finish all my work deliverables. Lol.
Lesson 2: Sometimes, it’s okay to depend on and trust others
I try not to depend on people as much as possible because one, I do not want to be disappointed and two, I don’t want to be a burden. #StrongIndependentWoman #TrustIssues (Lol I kid. ish)
But hiking taught me that it’s okay. It’s okay to depend on your hike mates for shelter, food, medicine or whatever you need. This does not mean; however, that you should completely leave everything to them and do nothing. That even if you can depend on people, you should still know how to take care of yourself and do things by yourself.
In life, you should learn to accept that you cannot handle everything by yourself (and that’s perfectly okay). And no matter how much we think we’re being independent, we are still being dependent even on the littlest of things. For example, even if I am already earning, I still depend on my parents for my groceries among others. This is also true when it comes to personal problems which we share to our closest friends in hopes of easing up the pain even for a bit (“A problem shared is a problem halved”).
Lesson 3: It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop
Hiking should not be a competition. So do not get intimidated by other hikers who seem to just breeze through the trail. You go follow your own pace because at the end of the day, what’s important is reaching the summit and finishing the whole climb successfully no matter how long it takes (well let’s just say as long as the itinerary permits). And in time, you’ll be as good as them too.
In situations where I wanted to give up, I always tell myself to just keep going and take it one step at a time (Bonus: I compare situations with the same time-span. For example, if running a 10km race takes about an hour, I just simply tell myself that it’s like watching an episode of my favorite Korean drama which also takes about an hour). One day you’re going to wake up and realize that an hour or a month or even a year has passed since you last thought of quitting. But because you did not quit, it got you to where you are today.
Lesson 4: Risk it or Miss it
When opportunities to hike come my way, I really try my best to grab them (especially if that mountain is part of my bucketlist). And whenever I go hiking, I always make sure to visit and take photos of all the photo-worthy spots which I see online (or otherwise miss the opportunity). When we were in Mt. Pulag, I looked forward to taking a photo of the Milky Way but on that night, I got too lazy to move because of the cold that even if I knew the Milky Way was already present (because I saw a bright light from inside our tent), I chose to sleep in. I missed the chance and I regret it up until today.
Need I say more on life and taking risks? Well, I just know that failing is better than not trying. And sometimes, you just have to suck it up and do what your heart tells you to do.
Lesson 5: Things don’t always go the way you want them to
In hiking, you either get lucky with a summit clearing and/or sea of clouds or you don’t. I’ve experienced some hikes wherein I was not able to see what I hiked up for. This does not mean; however, that it was a bad experience, rather, it was good but could have been better. And it’s fine because I can always go back and try again next time.
Personally, I think how we handle difficult situations defines who we are as a person. Whether we choose to sulk or move forward, give up or try again is really up to us. We just have to accept the results of the situations that we cannot change and have the guts to change those that we can and be wise enough to know the difference.
Lesson 6: Be inspired and be an inspiration
Hiking has made me further realize how little space we occupy in this extremely beautiful world. There is just this unexplainable yet beautiful feeling when you get immersed in nature and this feeling radiates in you even as you go back home to the busy city.
In life, you will be greater than a lot of people but there will be a lot of people who will be greater than you are as well. Let these people serve as your inspiration to do better in all your endeavors and always remember to remain humble in order to be an inspiration to others too. Shout-out to my hiker and runner friends who are so good at what they do, they make me want to climb more mountains and run longer distances. Idol ko po kayong lahat!
Lesson 7: Finish what you started
Whenever I get invites to go to a hike, I don’t just agree immediately unless I am sure that I can go. So when I say yes, I usually do not back out. This is also to respect the one organizing because he/she has already taken you into count and backing out would, most probably, cause trouble for the organizer (I know because I’ve organized hikes where some people backed out at the last minute). And when I am already on the trails, my goal is to finish the climb without turning back.
So when you commit yourself to something, make sure that you will see it through especially if it involves other people. Try your best not to disappoint those who depend on and believe in you.
Lesson 8: Overcoming your fears is one of the best feelings in the world
Yes, I have a fear of heights and this is one of the reasons why I started hiking – to overcome it. There have been instances along the trail when my legs would get weak especially when the trail involves cliffs and narrow spaces to move around. But with the right mindset, I overcame these trails and was able to summit these buwis buhay mountains and it made me feel so proud of myself.
Like what they say,
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.
We overcome our fears everyday, we just don’t realize it – whether being able to successfully do a presentation in front of clients or professors or just being able to kill a pesky cockroach in the bathroom. Being able to overcome these situations will surely make you feel a whole lot better about yourself.
“I nailed that presentation!”
“Bes, nakapatay ako ng ipis, akalain mo yun!”
Lesson 9: It’s a good thing to detach yourself from the things you’re attached to every once in a while
During hiking trips, especially major ones where I need to camp in the mountains, I do not exactly get favorable conditions. I do not get the comfort of sleeping on a soft bed wrapped around my comforter. Instead, I just rely on my sleeping bag, extra socks and emergency blanket to fight the really cold temperature and the hard ground. So what’s good about this you ask? Well, for one, I can always go out of my tent and watch the night sky (and get to wish upon lots and lots of shooting stars). Two, I get to enhance my survival skills. And third (among other things), I get to appreciate the little things even more (i.e. Pineapple chunks taste extra good in the mountains, trust me.)
If you think you cannot go a day without checking Facebook, then you haven’t found yourself an activity which will make you so indulged in it that you wouldn’t even notice the time. Furthermore, detaching yourself from SNS and SMS gives you more time to interact and catch up with your friends.
Lesson 10: I got this. You got this. We got this.
Attitude is often contagious and encouragement, no matter how simple, can still make a huge impact. This is why whenever I get tired while trekking, I try my best not to complain and every time I encounter fellow hikers along the trail, I always greet them and tell them simple words of encouragement like, “take care” or “almost there!”. I appreciate hike mates who make the journey extra fun by sharing stories because this alleviates the feeling of being tired.
Life gives us so many obstacles and they often come all at the same time. Instead of complaining how hard things are, I try to see even the slightest positivity (because there always is) and I always tell myself that I can do it (because I believe in myself). We all have been in dire situations where we thought recovering was almost impossible. Then again, we manage and prove ourselves wrong.
I got this. You got this. We got this.
I am thankful for all the benefits hiking has given me. And I feel so lucky to have finally found something that excites and motivates me and even luckier to have people I can share it with. For those who hike, I am sure the mountains have imparted different lessons in you as well.