It’s wretched. Absolutely awful. Carrying a heavy pack for miles and miles and never being quite sure when the end will come. I never notice my environment. I am fixated on the trail, the next step, and the necessity to keep going.
For a born and bred suburbanite, hiking makes zero sense. Nothing about it is convenient. And yet, because of this lack of convenience, your truest self is revealed. Your habits vanish. There is only what is, with awe in how little there is ‘supposed’ to be.
The way in is hard. It usually requires climbing up. You hate every switch back and unlevel surface. You despise the waterfall as equally as trickling brook — anything that brings you out of the trudgery of your mindless grind and forces you to interact with this place and task you dislike.
How little I push myself when in control of my surroundings and resources. I only work to feel good (and then halt and smile at my quick satisfaction). My journeys are brief and comfortable, never far from a known edge. This mountain was anything but.
Once you reach your destination, the most astounding joy surfaces. The physical summit parallels the emotional one. The beauty of completion magnifies the visual grandeur a thousand times. You are here, and here, for once, is a place of rest. Rest is the one luxury of the wild. It can happen anytime and in a multitude of ways. There is a magical transformation where being becomes a restful state.
Heading out, there is infinite buoyancy and vigor. An excited engagement that feels like knowing hope sets in. Hello creek! Hello slate rock! Thank you for letting me slide underneath you, fallen tree! I was never so happy to see horse poop in my life. It was a sign that the start (and ultimately, the end) was very near. When granted a given path to where you really want to go, gratefulness becomes an appreciation of all that has lead you here.