I’ve been hiking in the mountains since I was teenager. Of course, my attitude towards mountain changes, it evolves with the passing of time, like every relationship in life.
Recently, I’ve seen an awesome sentence: if you want to check how much you’ve changed, visit a place where you went several years ago (or something like that). Well, the mountains don’t change, but I perceive them totally different than I used to, and I feel differently now when I think about them or while I hike in the mountains. I have changed.
For long my fascination with the mountains was dream-like, a bit transcendent. I felt a strong attraction towards mountains, but I was unable to say what exactly was so alluring to me. I admit, this situation had its appeal.
Because when something indefinite attracts you so strongly, with such mysterious but constant strength, you feel magic happening in your life. And it’s nice to feel magic.
Unfortunately, it looks like it cannot last forever. For me it’s already ended, maybe not completely, but it has elapsed greatly.
I still like the slogan that the mountains are calling so I must go, but I don’t feel it like in the past. It’s not incomprehensible rush, almost animal-like call. It’s more conscious choice now, rather than simply following instinct.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever know what was the thing which called me then. What was I looking for at that time. Today I know perfectly well why I hike in the mountains.
In the future… Well, it may change so I guess I’ll have a reason to write another post. 😉
Table of contents
You like it or not, you’re programmed to being successful. But not necessarily in corporation ladder.
Some people would get satisfaction from work successes, others would find fulfilment in happy family life, some would seek sense of achievement in art.
Human beings, from their childhood, like to succeed in doing things. However, they prefer to let go things which they aren’t successful in.
Ability to defeat this aversion comes with time (or it doesn’t – how to explain the fact I still don’t like calculations, and do even the simplest counting on calculator, twice?).
Of course, success is important in life. We like to know that we’re good at something. We like to feel proud of ourselves.
One of the most famous Polish mountaineers Artur Hajzer when asked what are his reasons to go to the mountains replied it’s the only thing he could do properly.
It may have not been entirely true (he was a businessman), but never mind. Mountains were his true passion, in the mountains he felt important and proud of himself. In the mountains he felt successful.
I’m not a second Hajzer, but I also experience fulfilment in the mountains. I’m rather resilient hiker, one of those who can walk many kilometres in unfavorable weather and still feel OK. I feel sense of accomplishment after getting to the peak of a mountain and am proud of myself I overcame some of my weaknesses.
I quite like living in town. It’s very convenient for me to have workplace so close to my home. Cinema, post office, shops, restaurants – all the urban infrastructure is hard for me to resist. 😉 At the moment I wouldn’t like to move back to a village.
But sometimes I’m fed up with urban aesthetics. And it’s not because my town isn’t beautiful.
In fact, no city is beautiful when it’s cold, trees are bare, and there are cigarette buts and other rubbish sticking out from dirty snow. And colors are only seen on shopping windows and advertisements.
Whereas in the mountains… in the mountains it’s always beautiful.
Immensity of ideally smooth sparkling snow which reaches the horizon, bare alps leaning out from the mist, vast slopes covered in lush greenery, rustling yellowed grass on meadows, thawing lakes which become sapphire compared to the snow. This is real beauty for me.
I know a lot of people find beauty closer, easier and faster - in museums, theatres, in IKEA, in their own nails just after visit in beauty parlour. Sometimes I do as well. But I find the biggest and most astounding beauty in the mountains. And I often need it very much.
3. Mental rest
After a few-day trip or weekend spent in the mountains I usually return more or less worn out. Different parts of my body hurt: tired legs, overstrained shoulders, sunburnt skin, wounded shin (mountain biking is risky).
I need several days until I’m fully recovered after such trip. Physically, mountain hiking drains my energy and I definitely don’t get any rest.
But nowhere else I'm able to regenerate mentally so well like in the mountains. My mind is fully relaxed in the mountains. When I get out of a car, my disk formatting begins.
In the mountains there aren’t a lot of things which matter. In the mountains it’s the trail that’s important. My worries have very short time span - just the next few hours. Which way will I be ascending, which way descending, what will I eat, what will the weather be like.
In the mountains I just like to look into the sky and not think about anything. This is very valuable experience, I remember such moments long after the trip ends. Sometimes, when I’m pissed off or just sad, I recall those precious times and life seems more bearable.
4. Contact with nature
I don’t eschew civilization. I love Internet and all the possibilities it gives. And I appreciate technological progress and all those awesome things it has given us.
But I need to get some rest from time to time.
Rest and soak up something I have printed in my genes. Wildness and freedom. Get in touch with non-civilized part of my mind. Stay in place which has its own rules, which still withstands the changes made by armed human hand.
Feel fragility and evanescence of my own life compared to the Earth and get proper distance for my existence.
I can find that high up in the mountains.
5. Simple happiness
Some time ago there was a chocolate ad: after how many pieces will you smile?
Exactly. How many chocolate squares do we need to smile? What has to happen during our average working day for us to consider it successful? How much money on our bank accounts will make us pleased?
What makes us happy everyday? And why so little things?
I try to use very popular idea these days - mindfulness. Sometimes I even succeed and get calmer and happier for a moment.
But I usually behave like the majority of people - I complain and grumble, envy other people their exotic travels, get bad mood because of things which are actually unimportant. It’s difficult for me to be mindful and happy on average working day.
And in the mountains? In the mountains it’s much easier.
In the mountains everything makes me happy: a short break for a snack, taking off heavy backpack, amazing landscape, soothing murmur of a nearby stream, taste of nuts (which I dislike at home), the warmth of mountain hut's dining room.
In the mountains it’s easier to experience and notice simple and pleasant feelings and enjoy them. Simply as that.
6. Character building
Mountains actually changed me.
When I was a child, and then teenager, I used to be shy and sheepish. I was actually afraid of other people. It didn’t look like I’ll write a blog, have many friends and travel often.
But each trip to the mountains gave me much needed feeling of success, strength and endurance, which later helped me with everyday issues. I liked to remember how I coped with long hikes and difficult trails, how I fought with my weaknesses and fears.
Hiking in the mountains slowly but constantly built my confidence. If I managed to survive in the mountains, maybe I won’t get lost in everyday life.
Mountains toughened me and brought out my positive qualities, some of which I wasn’t even aware I had.
Mountains are my method to spice up my life, make it more colorful and interesting. Mountains make my life a bit… incredible and unearthly.
I like to think mountains are background of my life. They're the motor which gets me going and a sweet relief after a difficult week. It’s great to have something I can identify with, somewhere I can find myself feeling right. It’s great to have a passion.
Mountains are place where human being can experience the amazing power of nature. Where one can come into contact with unique aesthetic, where the physical effort can be turned into real satisfaction and deep happiness. Happiness derived from the fact we conquered a peak or hiked a trail.
Mountains provide very distinctive, special rest. Nowhere else our mind is so clear from civilization's hustle and bustle. In the mountains simple things give happiness: warm tea, short break, dry tree log to sit on.
It’s so easy to be happy in the mountains!