I love most things about hiking. The views, the smells. The soft breezes and quiet sunny days. Each hike combines so many elements that keep me coming back. That isn’t to say that I love every step of every hike. I like the flat parts, I like the descent but I don’t know that I will ever like uphill hiking.
Is it really a hike if you didn’t have to earn the view. I believe so. Others may disagree. For me the workout isn’t the most important part. It is a nice side perk of the hike but the main focus for me is to get out in nature, unplug a bit, and clear my mind. I can do that heading downhill just fine. For me it is possible to connect to nature while uphill hiking but it is a bit harder to connect through deep breaths only broken by a string of curse words that are anything but eloquent.
Heading uphill leads to a mystery. Each turn leads to more heartbeats and new obstacles. As I pull my weight towards the sky, I find it harder and harder to miss the rocks in the path. My steps get smaller and my pack tries to pull me back to the comfortable depths I once occupied. The sun burns brighter, the wind picks up. An easy hike across a flat dirt path suddenly feels like walking the wrong way on an escalator. I’ll get there but progress is slow. Uphill hiking can’t last forever though and as the air gets thinner, the distance to cover gets less and less.
Then finally I see the view. It is all worth it. My legs stop on top of a mountain that I just climbed. The views are different from the top. The soreness and sweat tell me that I have earned this view. Hard work paid off.
One thing that hiking taught me is that I can do the uphill climbs. Not just on the hills but in life. We would all love to have a world in which we only head downhill or at least stay on the same plane. A world in which we don’t struggle but still get the rewards. Most of us don’t know that world.
Uphill climbs in life can be as simple as that jerk who takes your parking spot at work. As complicated as a relationship that has gone from great to ghastly. Each challenge is really just another hill to climb. Each step will be harder. Full of rocks that are sometimes clear and sometimes hidden. Obstacles are plentiful on the uphill climbs of life. One morning the coffee can will be empty and slow you like a tree felled on the trail. An oil leak will ruin your day as quickly as a washed out trail. That headache that wont go away just like the storm clouds brewing in the distance. The uphill climb is relentless.
One Foot in Front of the Other
Uphill hiking on the trail is not really that different from the uphill climbs of life. If you stand at the bottom of the trail and look to the top of the mountain, the world seems endless. The goals too far away. You are too small. If you look at the foot of space in front of you the world seems small. The goal just a step away. You are big, capable. A foot is achievable.
When you break your uphill climbs into smaller steps the trail becomes clear. It is easier to say climb a mountain than to take the 10,000 steps it actually takes. Day by day, or step by step, the top of the mountain will get clearer. Before you know it you will be closer to the goal than the start. One step at a time. One foot at a time.
Uphill hiking is hard, just as life is. There is no quick way to the finish and any shortcut usually ends in some sort of disaster. Each step is a grind. Before long that grind turns to its own form of energy. The steps that were so slow and methodical can speed up as you get closer and closer to your goal, to the mountain top. Then, often unexpectedly, you are there. You found the peak. The journey of 10,000 steps a mere memory as the reward of the destination takes over. The top of the mountain, the finish line, the goal complete. Effort finally justified in a simple moment of success. A mountain climbed by putting one foot in front of the other and hiking uphill. Maybe I do like uphill hiking a little bit after all.
More from The Fatman
If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy more of the posts on my Fatman’s Rambling page. Blogs such as “Screw it, I’m Trying”, “Hiking Alone not Lonely Hiking“, “Winslow, Arizona” and “Lost in the Woods” as well as many others may interest you there. If you have any comments or topics you would like me to cover, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Or you can keep the conversation going by following me on any of the below social media platforms.
You should come here and do the Sunrise Ascent up Mount Washington. It’s the annual fundraiser for Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country. Be prepared to get up at 2:00 in the morning.
I might have to do that!