Hiking isn't just about getting physically fit, or about seeing nature, or about proving anything to anyone but yourself. I know that (and some of you probably do, too) but I saw this list on Elite Daily of 10 lessons hiking can teach you.
Five of them really struck a chord with me, so I thought I'd write a bit about them.
When I first started hiking, I could barely make it down and back a really easy trail with my pack I was "training" with. But I kept going. I complained a lot, lightened my pack for a while, and did easy trails, but eventually I was able to do the trails I wanted to do. I was able to do section hikes and see sites in foreign countries while hiking that I would have never seen otherwise.
Perseverance pays off. Not just in the physical sense, but also in the mental sense. I've learned to approach things the way I approached hiking: giving it all my all, but working up towards a goal and not expecting to be able to do everything in step 1.
You’ll Cross That Bridge When You Come To It
I'm a worrier. Always have been. One of the reasons training to hike at first for me was difficult was because of how heavy my pack is. A hiking buddy I met looked at everything I had and frankly told me that I didn't need it all. But I had a reason for everything! I needed everything!
Well, not really.
Yes, you need to be fully equipped and prepared for your hike. That doesn't mean you bring 3 different water filtration systems, a portable solar powered battery charger, and 3 foldable chairs. In most cases, you just don't need them.
Hiking helped me learn that being prepared isn't as much about having all the right gear as it is about being mentally prepared, and knowing the skills that can save your life.
Then, when you reach that bridge, you really can cross it. And safely! Without having to worry so much ahead of time.
Home Is A Feeling, Not A Place
I thought that my first night sleeping outdoors would be a night mare. I never had fun camping and always was worried and stressed when it came time to sleep.
Well, that's not the case for me while hiking. On my first overnight hike, I slept more soundly than I had in weeks, and woke up feeling great. I was comfortable and happy with all I had accomplished and felt safe and at home in this environment.
I don't always feel this way while on the trail, but most of the time, I do, and it's helped me realize that my feeling of home is less about my material house and more about the feeling that it gives me. I can find that feeling on the trail, too.
The Power Of Kindness And Gratitude
Everyone knows the power of Trail Angels, who leave out food for hikers and thru hikers who need it. But that's not the only kindness you'll meet on the trail.
I once gave a hiker a big bottle of water I was carrying (this was still in my pack rat days) as I was headed off the trail and I knew they needed it. They were incredibly thirsty and (frankly) unprepared. I ended up seeing them later, and will never forget how thankful they were.
People have done similar acts of kindness towards me--preparing an extra dessert for me, lending me their silverware, giving me first aid assistance when needed. Being helpful towards others but also thankful when you receive it is something the trails quickly teach you, especially when cultivating a circle of friends on a thru-hike!
In The End, It’s Always Worth It
I think this one's pretty self explanatory. There's just nothing like reaching your goals, reaching the end, seeing that site, and making the move. It's great!!