I have a Sunday ritual of hiking at least 5 miles in Arizona. During the winter when it’s cold in other parts of the state, I am fortunate to hike a few heart-thumping mountains in the beautiful desert outside my home. While climbing the highest mountain near me, I stopped to record lessons I felt were good metaphors for life as well as for hiking alone.
1. If you have the choice, take the steeper climb first, giving focus and strength to the uphill climb instead of thinking it will be easier for your descent. When you think you’ve reached your goal and the hard work is over, the surprises on the downhill will catch you off guard. The fall hurts as you slip on loose rocks you didn’t notice on the way up. Conquer the bigger challenges first, one step at a time, so you will have more balance and energy on the other side.
You can find an alternate path if you find yourself in a tight spot.
2. There are old and new sayings that suggest you commit to a path and stay on it no matter what. Energies will align to help you achieve your goal. That is true, sometimes. When I reach a fork in the road, what looks like the right path is not always the best path. You can’t always see the obstacles and dangers ahead until you are on the path. The quicker I admit this, the easier it is to step back and take the other option. Don’t regret you choice; declare why you changed your mind and you will feel good about your decision.
3. When you hit a steep, rugged part of the path, look for the footprints of those who came before you. The ground will be more stable where they walked. Even if the prints are partially swept away, there might be a few you can step into, learning from those who also took the road less traveled. Don’t try forging a short cut, especially if you are hiking solo. You won’t get to your destination faster when you run into gullies and cliffs trying to forge a new path on your own.
4. If you have to crawl on all fours or use hiking poles to safely reach your goal, don’t worry if anyone sees your actions as a vulnerability. Your ego will heal more quickly than a broken bone.
5. Maintain a regular schedule of strength and balance training, both for your body and your mind. When you feel physically strong and sturdy, and emotionally confident and steady, you will face challenges with more grit, wit, and stamina.
Once you reach the top, stop, breathe, and appreciate yourself and the beautiful planet we walk on.
BONUS Take a moment to stop and breathe in the air at the top of your climb. Enjoy the view. Thank your legs, arms, and lungs. Appreciate everything that has brought you to this awesome moment.
Once we are able to travel again, if you visit Arizona, look me up. I love having hiking partners!