Updated: Nov 1, 2020
Hiking, or tramping as it's known in NZ, has become a pretty awesome hobby of mine since moving to this wonderful country. Whilst I've always been a big hiker and adventured up many mounts pre-NZ, I'm about to tell you exactly what it was that made me fall back in love with this type of adventuring, and why I would encourage you to give it a go.
I've always been drawn to the outdoors, but I've not always honoured myself enough to create the time or tap into the energy I would need to go on long walks or hikes, especially when I was living in the UK - it was easy for me to use the excuse that the opportunities for it just weren't there, and it's only since living here that I can recognise all the opportunities that do exist in England. I needed to shift my mindset to accepting that hiking just wasn't a priority for me at the time and that's totally okay.
Barcelona wasn't too different, although I definitely began getting out more. The scenery inspired me.
And even more so since moving to New Zealand, the scenery is unparalleled. You'd be far pushed to find another country that matches the innate beauty and magnificence NZ boasts, and that's why I'm not surprised that this desire for hiking has been re-ignited.
My very wonderful boyfriend said something that struck me today whilst we were walking up Tip Track - it's difficult to see a spectacularly tall peak and not wonder to yourself what the view would be like from the top.
It's difficult to see a mountain peak and not wonder to yourself what the view would be like from the top.
I found this quite profound because he seemed to capture exactly what it is that I feel in a really simple way. The thing that gets me going when it comes to hiking or tramping isn't necessarily the physical test or the challenge, it's almost exclusively the view.
Whilst fitness is important to me, I get a lot of my needs met in this regard with other practices - noticeably, yoga. Climbing a mountain does cause me to feel strong and fit, yes, but, at times I actually find it incredibly disheartening and physically exhausting (as i'm sure most people climbing a mountain do ha). But unlike many people who enjoy hiking for the physical thrill - which, I must admit, definitely kicks in once you do reach a peak - it's not the motivating factor for me.
The thing that I strive for most in any adventure is always always always a view.
I fall in love timelessly with views of the Earth, of the ocean, of the sky..
Time stops for me.
When you reach the peak of a mountain and look out onto the expanse of earth and ocean and sky below, everything falls silent. The world is still. And you're reminded entirely of what the whole point of being alive is. It isn't to work your 9-5 job, it isn't to squabble with people or get caught up in drama or insecurities, it's not to save thousands of pounds in the name of nothing.. it's to feel as alive as often as possible; to feel overcome with gratitude simply for the treasure of breathing.. and the magic of loving.
The most euphoric and enlightening moments of my life have only ever occurred when I find stillness in the natural world. That is when my awareness explodes and I can't help but beam. Moments when I feel high from the thrill of the climb, dipped in exhaustion, but more full than I could have ever hoped for. And I realise how precious it all is. How fragile our lives are. And that I must never take another moment for granted; another person, another feeling. I become overwhelmed by the beauty of living. I feel it so deeply and I know once again what it means to love.
And to be able to share these moments, the moments that tie together to create the masterpiece that I am, that we all are, hand-in-hand with the love of my life, is a spectacular gift I will never not choose.
I would rather climb the hardest, most exhausting and strenuous mountain to experience the mere seconds that inspire my passion for living and for loving, than take the easy route of never hiking them and miss out on the enchantment nothing else will ever rival.
So I urge you to get out; just to start. And start small - a gentle walk in your local forest, along a river or just through the country fields. There are always options if you choose to find them. And as many of my posts recently have been highlighting, you do not need to be perfect to start. Perfection does not exist - in any activity, in any sphere, so enjoy embracing exactly where you are.
But if you have a hunger for life like I do, then know that it all begins with a single step, and each step that you take will bring you closer to finding the magic. And as you walk, you will find that the magic of the earth is all around you. You do not need to be standing on the peak of a mountain, on the crater of a volcano, to feel that enchantment. You can find it in what you might assume will be mundane or ordinary because we all get quickly reminded that there is nothing mundane or ordinary in this life - and we must strive for those things that keep that thought in the forefront of our minds.
Finding yourself a walking buddy, a hiking partner, can be a really great way to stay motivated and stay connected to the reasons why you're doing it all. Find someone to share it with - whether that be a friend, a stranger in a hiking club, a colleague or a lover - someone you can inspire and who can inspire you right back.
So Sam, if you're reading this, I promise that I won't complain on our long old walks and strenuous hikes as we make choices to prioritise a life of adventure and exploration. I will stay rooted in this gratitude, in the shared love that we have for the natural world and the magic we keep finding, and remind myself that no matter how hard a hike might be, that view, that feeling will always be worth the wait, just as you were. Thankyou for being my inspiration when I lose sight of the things that set my soul on fire.
Hiking gets tiring, and it can be difficult - especially when you find yourself crawling for hours on your hands and knees up scree wondering when it will end - but its benefits are wonderful and fulfilling. I can't guarantee that hiking will be 'your thing,' but there's a chance that if you try it, it could become a portal you can use to fall in love with your life, repeatedly. And at the end of the day, we're all searching for those things that make us feel most alive.