My feet hurt. My knees hurt. Drops of ice cold water run down my back and build a puddle just above my bum. My shoes make funny noises while I walk up yet another muddy hill. My friends are there with me, or at least they have been a couple of minutes ago. I can’t see them through the mist and I can’t hear them, because there in front of me is a roaring waterfall that blocks out any noise.
I pause for a moment and wipe the water off my face. It’s been raining for the last three hours and we have another three to go.
“Why on earth are we doing this?” I ask myself for the tenth time today. We started yesterday by hiking an exhaustingly long time uphill in the burning sunshine, realizing that our backpacks are too heavy and all we actually need is water and sunscreen (well, today I’d add waterproof clothing and an umbrella to that list) and no 10 kilos of now obviously very useless stuff.
After a more or less refreshing nights sleep (as refreshing as it can get with 30 people in one room, two of which are snoring loudly), we started out this morning, optimistically believing that the rain would stop soon.
So why ARE we doing it? Right now I can’t remember so I just walk on.
“There is a hut! Can you see it?” My friend shouts in front of me. She is right. A tiny hut in a green valley, surrounded by sheep, just a 20 min walk away.
We hurry, we tumble and slide down the hill and there it is: heaven! A warm stove, a friendly host, soup and coffee and a possibility for us to change out of our wet clothes into something dry and warm. Water is running down the windows, we’re sharing stories with the host who is happy to have company for a change. I know that we can’t stay. Sooner or later we have to get back out there and get wet all over again. But I feel strong enough to do that now.
And I know that this is it for me. The reason why I do the hiking thing: because it makes me appreciate the simple things in life again.
It feels good to fall asleep at 7pm because I just can’t keep my eyes open any longer. It feels good to feel every muscle in my body. It feels good to appreciate basic food and a warm shower as much as I usually appreciate fancy dinners and bubble baths.
Being out there puts things back into perspective for me and makes me realize that all I really need is right there with me.
Like that “Into the Wild” guy said, it makes me feel strong:
“And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.”