My break up came as a shock - and resulted in a Hollywood movie, can’t get off the couch, cry myself until dehydration, don’t know what my life is anymore kind of sad. It wasn't until I rekindled my love for hiking that I realised I could be on my own again, and love it...
It had been a tough year for me. The man I thought was the love of my life abruptly left me. Even as someone who has dealt with anxiety and depression most of her life, I still didn’t know it was possible to be so heartbroken. It destroyed me. Also during all that I got kicked out of my apartment I was living in for 5 years, and had to find a new place in the great housing market that is Los Angeles.
Then, I got to a point where I said enough is enough: I may be sad, but I’m not going to let that stop me from living my life. It was here that I turned to hiking.
I grew up hiking with my family. As the youngest, I was always at the front of the pack on hikes. I would scream, “DEER!” so loud that it would scare them away before anyone else could see them but me (let’s be honest, I still get that excited around wildlife). We stopped camping around when I was in high school, and It wasn’t until I met my ex that I started doing those things again, and was reminded how much I loved it. After the break up and the first few inevitable months of living like a hermit, I made a plan to hike again.
I solo hiked in the Palm Springs area and watched the sunset from Joshua Tree. I went to the Valley of Fire, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. I went camping by myself for the first time ever in Ojai. I backpacked to Havasupai and did the ascent down the 200 foot tall Mooney Falls, which was a big deal since I am quite scared of heights. By the end I had climbed 27,108 ft of elevation over 82 miles.
Finally, I climbed Mount Whitney - the highest peak in the lower 48. As I stood at what felt like the top of the world, I cried.
I cried because one year ago I felt like I lost everything. I didn’t think I could do it without my ex but there I was, standing at the top of Mt. Whitney, having accomplished more this year independently than I ever could have dreamed. It was a beautiful moment. Through these hikes, I learned so much about myself; my strength and perseverance. I became someone I never thought I could be. So here’s what hiking taught me – and what it can teach you…
1. Take Risks
I told myself this year I would push myself out of my comfort zone and I did. You know what I found? It wasn’t that hard. All the things I was so nervous about doing actually ended up being pretty easy or, at the very least, not that scary.
2. Planning is key
I took risks but I also prepared for them. I did the research online, I joined facebook groups and asked questions. My ex and I were suppose to do the JMT last year but I remember freaking out because I felt like he wasn’t helping me plan and figure out what I needed. Funny, when that “resource” was taken away and I was forced to figure things out on my own, it was actually really easy. I am now planning on doing the JMT in 2018 solo.
3. Don’t rush
You will get there. Everyone moves at their own speed on hikes – and in life. Who cares if someone moves quicker than you; that’s their path, not yours. So be patient with yourself. “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin.
4. Enjoy the journey
The wonderful thing about hiking and summiting mountains is that it’s beautiful the entire time. The terrain changes, the views get more beautiful. Getting to the top of any mountain is a great feeling of accomplishment, but the real adventure is the climb. Just like in life, it’s important to appreciate where you are in the moment otherwise you will probably miss something.
5. Believe in yourself
I’m not saying it won’t be hard or that you won’t have some setbacks. But you learn. You adjust. You train harder, do more research, and you never give up. Because life doesn’t stop. The world turns and the days go by. So you move with it and you put yourself out there. You try new things, you push yourself beyond your limits. You remember that at the end of the day, the only person you really need is you.
Has an outdoor activity taught you something new about yourself, or pushed you out of your comfort zone? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…