As an overweight teenager playing in a rock band, I always felt like I was hard-wired for the indoors. Even though I did some hiking and played a lot of sports as a kid, I was pretty soft, clumsy and very un-athletic in my adolescence. While other youngsters were running or hiking, I was stuck inside the comforts of my room, shredding my guitar or playing Dynasty Mode in NBA Live with a Playstation or PC (yes, I did some pretty stuff in my room too).
And, things went from bad to worse, after I graduated from college. Like most naïve young professionals living in the fast lane, I was enamored with the loud beats, ice-cold beers and dazzling laser lights of the energetic clubs in my home city. Eventually, I became even more lethargic and lazier than I was a few years earlier.
As you’d expect, the thought of exerting a great deal of energy was distasteful, making hiking something I thought I’d never do in my whole life.
But after losing more than 60 excess pounds of weight, my opinion towards hiking and nature took a 180-degree turn. I, then, started traveling, which sparked my cravings for hiking and outdoor adventures. With a renewed positive outlook and a Straight Edge lifestyle, I decided to take a hike in Cebu, to feed my curiosity and wanderlust. And ever since then, I became a bona fide outdoor junkie.
Quite frankly, I’m still a novice, when it comes to hiking and exploring the outdoors. Yet, for all of my imperfections and lack of experience in hiking, I still have learned a ton of valuable lessons on the trail that are totally applicable in life as well.
Here are some of lessons I’ve learned from my hiking escapades.
1. Keep moving on
Life is, in a lot of different ways, like a long and challenging trail. As we trek this journey we call life, we, far too often, easily give up on our dreams and hopes, overcomed by challenges, disappointment or dejection. But on the hiking trail, you’ll learn that as long as you’re putting one foot in front of the other, you are getting somewhere. It may be a simple hiking lesson, but when it is applied to your life, it will produce some major results.
Whether you’ve been dreaming of becoming an astronaut or a rock star, any crazy dream of yours, which nobody believes in, may turn into a reality if you persevere, and keep walking towards it. Just take one step at a time, while keeping your eternal destination in mind. You may be climbing a slick and steep trail, but millions of others have successfully climbed through life, and so will you.
2. Life isn’t a bed of roses
Sounds like a classic Bon Jovi song, right? Hiking, as with life, isn’t a walk in the park, by any means. From blisters and bruises to a shortage of water supply, there will always be challenges and setbacks along the way, as you head to the mountains. But, guess what? These things not only make you stronger, but they also add spice to your life as well as help build character immensely. Without these hiccups, your journey would be nothing but a boring and uninteresting story to tell.
3. Nothing meaningful is easy
The money or allowance you got from parents are, in my opinion, less meaningful than the cash you’ve earned by tirelessly working every day. The harder you try and the more effort you pour in, the greater the reward will be. Continue pushing yourself and your hiking buddies to reach the summit, and when you finally do, savor the majestic views that only a few folks get to see.
4. A positive attitude can do wonders
Sometimes, in tough situations along the trail, I say to myself “why the hell are you doing this”. Let’s face it, hiking can be quite a frustrating and exhausting struggle, even for seasoned outdoor aficionados.
But, I never display my frustrations and pains in front of any member of Team Bang – my sprightly hiking crew. When everyone is just as stressed, frustrated, tired and nervous as I am, I try to make things a little better with my enthusiasm and optimism.
I always do my best to make their hiking experience less painful and more pleasant, with a smile and a few words of encouragement, like “there’s always a rainbow after the rain” or “Ardua Non Timeo”. And while these acts are simple, they still foster positivity as well as give them the willpower to finish the hike.
Of course, having a positive attitude can also be very beneficial in your everyday life. In a world full of vague cynics and sourpuss, an infectious positive approach can boost the morale and lift up the disheartened spirits of the people around you.
5. Problem solving
There’s literally an app for each issue you might encounter, be it on the outdoors or indoors. But, when you’ve been hiking for eight hours, wandered off the trail and your phone’s battery is dead, you’ll be compelled to start using your brain. Honestly, you can’t Google Map your way out of this situation.
Hiking has somehow enhanced my sense of direction and survival skills, so I can save myself without any help from a smartphone. Although there are plenty of benefits to using a smartphone, I rarely use them, whenever I go hiking.
6. The power of gratitude and kindness
Even the most prepared and experienced hiking buff can get lost, or caught up in a sudden downpour. They, then, discover the real meaning of gratitude, when they wondrously encounter the warm kindness of a stranger.
From hand-drawn maps to fresh coconut juice, there is no shortage of kindness of this beautiful world. Gratitude and kindness typically go hand in hand, and appreciating their value will make your life and journey even more beautiful.
7. Always be prepared
I know it sounds clichéd, but, for me, preparedness is essential to both hiking up a steep peak, and life in general. Believe me, you won’t regret packing an extra bottle of water or a couple of crackers, when hiking. Similarly, you won’t regret the umbrella you threw in the bag during the rainy season, or the extra smartphone battery you tossed in your bag.
8. The world is such a beautiful place
We, very often, find ourselves unable to see and appreciate Mother Nature’s grandeur. We become so preoccupied with ourselves, gadgets and work that we forget to notice the beauty right in front of our eyes. With no gadgets to distract you, hiking in the wilderness allows you see just how gorgeous our planet truly is.
9. It’s always worth it in the end
You won’t get to enjoy the breathtaking panorama from the summit if you don’t hike the numerous difficult kilometers to get there. This includes pushing your fear of heights, sleeping under the stars, running out of water and taking the wrong turns.
We are the sum of our mistakes, aspirations, dreams, life choices and the risks we take to get to the place where we want to be. Sure, we may not always make the best decisions, and things don’t always go as we hoped for, but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it.
10. There’s no need to rush things
In today’s bustling fast-paced world, it seems like everyone is in a mad rush to reach the end. But, why are we all rushing nowadays? Isn’t life meant to be cherished, and not just lived?
Hiking teaches us to slow down, soak in the scenery, and listen to nature. Like life, it’s a wondrous journey that should be savored thoroughly. Reaching the peak is actually the cherry on top.
11. The value of teamwork
You won’t reach the top of the mountain if you don’t work together, and you won’t have a successful project or product launch if somebody in your team messes up. As they say, “you are only as strong as your weakest link”. So, treat everyone around you as part of your gang. If they fail, you’re also going to fail. Then, everyone will get demoted or worse, fired.