How Hiking Became My Church

Happy Trail Tuesday everyone! I hope all of you had a great weekend and got some time to go outside and explore. This most recent weekend I hiked to Cucamonga Peak with my Cal Lu Hikes club + padre and fader (my dad and friend’s dad joined us), so since I already did a blog detailing that hike I figured I write about something different this week. I am writing about how hiking has become “my church”. What I mean by that is hiking has really become my time to focus on myself, learn lessons about life and in a way has been my own sanctuary and place of worship.

Hiking is the time I dedicate to myself, to work on me, to become faster, stronger and to discipline myself. It’s also a time I reflect on certain things that happened during my week such as my frustrations and my accomplishments. As I have mentioned in previous posts I began hiking with my dad when I was about 16 years old. We first started off with little hikes, going out for about an hour or so every week, and then my dad took me to Mount Baldy. This was my first ever big hike and I was eager and excited to make it to the top. After reaching Mount Baldy’s summit I have never looked back.

Mount Baldy summit October 2012

I am proud of the accomplishments I have achieved while hiking and I am not afraid to talk about my failures. There have been many times where I had to turn around because of weather conditions, time constraints, or just not being ready to take on the hikes. These moments where I have failed have really taught me the most about myself and I am thankful that I have the opportunity to learn when I haven’t met a goal- no matter how sad or frustrating that failure is.

One of my biggest achievements and failures has been hiking Mount Whitney. Our permit was for October 24, 2015 and I had been putting the time and effort to make sure I was ready to get to the summit. A week before our hike I became sick, I had a fever, was throwing up, had no appetite, but I was not too worried because I knew my fitness would not decrease that much and with rest I would get better quickly. As the date to hike was approaching I knew I wasn’t 100% but I was sure I would be able to do fine and keep up. On the day of the hike, my dad and I woke up dark and early and I instantly knew I was worse, it felt like tennis balls were stuck in my throat. I was hoping coffee would help but I knew I was sick and there was not much I could do now that I was on my way to the trail head.

Mount Whitney, October 2015

As I made my way up, I could feel myself becoming weaker and weaker. The air was getting thinner. my throat was so swollen I could not swallow my water or food and my body was aching. However, I had worked too hard to get to this point there was no way I was giving up now. I made it to 1.5 miles from the top and I had to turn around. This is when I became angry and filled with self-hate. I began to cry as I realized I had made it almost 10 miles one way and could not reach the top because of how sick I was. As I turned around and headed back to the bottom all I could think about what how disappointed I was, how I was so close and couldn’t take even one step without my calves cramping from the lack of water and food my body was dealing with. All my thoughts were filled with anger and so much hate that I felt like I had wasted my time and training to only fail so close to the top.

Mount Whitney, October 2015

As I made my way down to the last couple steps of the hike I met a lady who asked me if I had gone all the way to the top, I told her I was really close to making it but I wasn’t able to get to the top. She told me how impressed she was and congratulated me on such a big accomplishment. After that conversation I decided that I wasn’t going to dwell on the fact that I didn’t make it to the top but instead praise myself for working so hard, especially when I was really sick! This moment changed my perspective towards hiking and was a transition from being one of my favorite hobbies to becoming an important part of my life.

I now focus on positive words when I hike and I let go of my ego. Some days I am the first one to finish and some days I am the slowest in the group, and that’s ok because I reach the top and I make it back to the car. I have learned that hiking is me vs me and no one else. I self-reflect. I take time to focus on words such as “love” “patience” “faith” and I let go of my fear during my ‘church’ time.

Mount Baldy, January 2013

written by @danny3402


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