(Clockwise from top-left: Twin Falls, Rattlesnake Ridge, Poo Poo Point, Snoqualmie Falls)
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed,
and to have my senses put in order.”
Hiking lately has looked a lot different for me. Instead of heading out on the same old trails, I am exploring more challenging trips. Aside from the killer views, I learned a few things about myself along the way:
I’m slow. Like, really slow.
As a solo hiker, I thought I was an average hiker in terms of speed. As it turns out, I’m not. I’m embarrassingly slow. Sometimes I’m slow because I’m not ready to handle the trek (as was the case with Poo Poo Point), and other times it’s because I would rather stop and enjoy the view (as was the case with Twin Falls). I’m learning that racing to the top is not my style. I’d rather wander and see things than race to the top with my head down.
I’m too hard on myself.
I hiked up 3 mountains this year, yet only summited 2 – and that one I didn’t summit still pisses me off. I got a bit lost, a bit tired, and had to give up. I know that I should appreciate what I accomplish, and not focus on what I didn’t. I also know it was an important lesson to listen to my body instead of risking getting hurt or really lost. It still makes me mad that I can’t do everything I want to do, but I’m getting better about it.
Hiking is great therapy.
Whenever life sucks donkey balls, I like to head outside. It is a great way for me to get whatever is bothering me out of my system, and to physically push myself to exhaustion. It’s a great outlet when I need one. However, I worry sometimes that I’ll start associating hiking with being upset or angry because that seems to be the only times I do it now. I did that with bike riding in Ohio, and grew to dislike it somewhat. Guess that’s something I need to deal with.
Heights bother me now.
When hiking Rattlesnake Ridge with a small group recently, I discovered one reason I’m a slow hiker might be a mild case of vertigo. After about a 1,500 foot climb, I found myself dizzy, out of breath, and nauseated – which scared the crap out of me. Since then, I’ve done a few 1,000ft+ climbs and the same thing happens each time. I have done much longer hikes with shorter ascents that don’t do this to me, which is why I think it might be vertigo and not just an in/out of shape thing. Maybe this flat-land Ohio girl isn’t meant to climb mountains? If you’re a seasoned hiker and have any ideas of how to help, I’m all ears!
The views are always worth it. Always.
Even if it takes me forever, I’m angry with the world around me, and I’m dizzy as fuck, it’s always a great feeling to make it to my destination. Being rewarded with a great mountaintop view or a beautiful waterfall is worth the shit I put up with to get there. It’s also a consolation to know the trip back will be easier (and usually downhill)!