For a lot of people their favorite part about hiking is the end result: the view from the summit of a mountain top, a beautiful cascading waterfall or another form of dramatic scenery. But not for this girl- my favorite aspect of hiking is that “oh shit” moment. That moment where you are either physically or mentally challenged to the point where you want to give up, and turn back around. I live for those moments and are my favorite type of adventure. Hiking has taught me a lot, and has definitely shaped me into the person I am today. Some of the life lessons that hiking and adventure has so graciously taught me….
- Never let the fear of being alone overpower your love for adventure:Learning to love the solitude that comes from exploring the wilderness by yourself is one of life’s greatest gifts. I think back on all of my hiking adventures and realize how many opportunities I would have missed if I limited myself to partnered hiking. Some of my greatest experiences have come when I have been alone. Remember that, just because you are alone does not mean that you are lonely. If you want to go- just go. You will never regret an adventure.
- Learning to embrace the silence: We live in a world that is constantly connected to the security of the Internet and/or social media. I’ve learned to embrace disconnection from technology and the resulting re connection with nature and myself. No phones beeping or music playing, just the sounds of footsteps and fresh air and serene silence. That silence is what allows you to reconnect with yourself, it’s what fuels reflection and growth.
- Expect that plans may change (and probably will): Whether it’s aday trip or a week excursion, we can’t predict the weather, wildlife, trail conditions or any other aspect that is out of our control. Learning to embrace change and the unpredictability that comes along with outdoor adventure will be a great asset. Don’t let a change in plans destroy your mood or take away from the overall experience. Embrace it.
- Learning to stay true to who you are: I was given the bestadvice/compliment recently while hiking solo through Bryce Canyon, Utah. I met a gentleman who went out of his way to tell me, “Don’t ever let someone dull your adventurous spirit, it’s a rare find and it would be a shame if you changed.” There are always going to be people who don’t (and probably never will) understand an adventurous spirit, and that’s to be expected. As you learn to embrace who you are, you will attract like-minded people along the way. So book a plane ticket on a whim. Summit mountains. Explore. An adventure is always waiting, so don’t let anyone dull your adventurous spirit.
- Adventure will heal you- if you let it. This past year I learned how much adventure and being in nature affects your mental and physical well being. Whether it was heartbreak, a bad day at work, or an aspect of my life that needed some reflection- the wilderness was there. Being outside helped me to overcome adversity and build resilience in the face of struggle. Up until this year I never used hiking or being outdoors as a coping mechanism, and now it’s by far my favorite one. It’s my ‘happy’ place, my place of solitude, my opportunity to refuel. It has healed my heart in more ways than one. The wilderness will rebuild you, and give you the ability to move forward…one ridge line at a time.
- Embracing functionality. ‘The moment I stopped training for esthetics and started to train for function was the moment I realized what my body was truly capable of.’ I’ve been involved in some form of fitness for the vast majority of my life. During adolescence it was team sports, such as soccer and volleyball. In my late teens I got into weightlifting and shifted my focus from fitness to aesthetics. I started caring more about what I looked like and less about how healthy I was, and how functional my body was. I had set unrealistic figure expectations, and was never satisfied with the body I had attained. The best thing that could have ever happened to me was a neck injury, which was a result of over-training and muscle imbalances due to training for aesthetics, rather than function. It forced me out of the gym and got me away from the environment that surrounds that lifestyle. Always having a love for fitness, I looked for other ways to remain active, which led to hiking. Although I thought it was just a temporary solution, I was wrong. I haven’t looked back since. Hiking has taught me to train for life as a whole rather than singular events, and it has been the best revelation of my adult life.
- Enjoy the view: The view from your own two eyes is far superior than the view from behind your camera. Taking more time to enjoy the scenery and the overall experience is far more rewarding than simply taking photographs. To me, that means enjoying the process of hiking, the scenery along the way, not just attained a final goal. Enjoy the wilderness, where some of the most amazing images surround you. It would be a shame to only see it from a picture.