from 0 to hiker

If you knew me in high school or college, you’d find it hard to believe how much hiking has become a part of my life. I always used to say that I hated nature, which was strange because I used to go camping (and enjoy it) with my family when I was younger. Somehow, I lost my connection with nature and became a full “city girl”. That changed in 2018 when I went to Peru to do the Inka Trail. Going to Machu Picchu was one of my life goals but I don’t know how the idea of hiking to the site popped into my head because I don’t think I owned any hiking gear or had seen a mountain in years.

After the Inka Trail I realized how much I loved being surrounded by different plants, walking on different terrains, and unplugging from my phone. Even the conversations that I had on the trail were different than the ones I had over lunch or coffee. I enjoyed letting that city girl go and watching her accomplish something that she never thought she could handle. Similar to running, I got a high from completing a hike or getting to a nice viewpoint. And unlike running, I never got competitive with myself about hiking. It’s just about me, whoever I’m with, and enjoying the nature.

Since moving to Spain, I’ve tried to go hiking at least once a month to get out of the city and explore smaller towns. I’ve been to La Pedriza, Peñalara, Patones de Arriba, Chinchón, Manzanares, El Escorial, and more. I’m definitely not a serious hiker though. I will be the first to complain when we approach a hill and the last to stand up after a lunch break.

Someday I would like to hike Mount Kilimanjaro but for now (with Covid restrictions) I will stick to hiking around Spain. My next immediate goal is to do the Camino de Santiago in the north of Spain. It is several days/weeks long depending on the route but I would love to do this challenge. It would be a great way to unplug, unwind, and just walk.

To me hiking represents adventure – will the trail be marked? Did I pack enough food? Will the weather change? For someone like me who enjoys having everything planned, hiking is sometimes a mental challenge too. I have to let go of control and accept that once I am out, the only thing that I can control is my attitude. If the trail isn’t marked then we explore and head back. If we don’t have enough food, we make friends with people who do, or turn around. If the weather changes from hail to sun to fog, then we laugh and we keep on going. Things won’t always be perfect but sometimes it’s the days that are the most difficult that turn out to be the best ones!

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