Day 6

All we really did today was hike. A long, difficult, but beautiful 13 mile hike. We woke up early, had some breakfast in the hut, packed our lunch, and started our journey at around 10am. It was a tough but magnificent 9 hour journey that consisted of hiking through trails up and down different mountains. Essentially, we were mountain hopping.

I don’t mean to be dramatic, but today was the most physically challenging day I’ve had in my entire life. After today, I honestly felt like I could do anything I put my mind to, and I still do.

At the beginning of the hike, I felt extremely motivated. I could feel my lower body really working, but I still felt like I could continue this for a long time. However, after a while, the trail became quite uneven, with rocks and snow getting in the way of the path. I found myself grabbing onto plants on the side to keep my balance as I hiked. The memory of the caving experience started to haunt me again. “Why can’t the path just be even!”  I repeated to myself countless times throughout the hike. I had a lot of bruises on my hands from the hike, probably from holding on to different plants as I hiked up. I definitely destroyed some plants along the way, so they got back at me for sure.

I felt exhausted and would sometimes stop for a few seconds to catch my breath. My group was amazingly supportive, though. They would cheer me on to keep going, saying how well I’m doing so far. Everyone was cheering everyone on. It felt so great to be a part of such a caring and supportive group! Everyone was essentially peer-pressured to keep going, which was awesome.

We stopped somewhere along a mountain to have our lunch and enjoy the view. I didn’t realize how far up we came until I looked down.

Thoughts I had while eating lunch:

This is the best sandwich I’ve had in my entire life.

This view though…

Did I really make it this far all by myself?

How much have we hiked so far?

How much hiking is left?

I’m not going to be able to move tomorrow.

I wish my phone had battery so I could take pictures/snapchats of these views!

I feel cold sitting here, not moving..I hope we get back to hiking soon. 

The view was really something. And I knew it would be 10 times more beautiful once we reached the highest mountain around here. After the lunch stop, we continued on our hike. Everyone seemed more energized and ready to take on the mountains.

After a while, we took another rest stop. Then, Helga pointed towards the final mountain we were about to embark on before we turned back. She said it was the most challenging mountain to hike on, but totally doable. Most of us took up the challenge and went up the mountain, including me. I am definitely glad I did, but boy was it tough!

On the way up the mountain, I felt like I was actually rock climbing. The mountain would be so steep sometimes that I had to use my arms to grab on to another rock and push myself up. It really required your whole body strength to move up the mountain. “Is this even safe?” I thought. I couldn’t look down because it was just too scary. We were SO high up. Everyone motivated each other to keep going, and after what seemed like forever, we finally reached the top. The view at the top was worth all the sweat and tears. It was such an amazing view, but what made it stand out from anything else I’ve ever seen is that I reached here all by myself, without the help of a car or helicopter or any other form of transportation, just my own two feet. We stayed at the top of the mountain for a long time, taking pictures and looking at all the snow-covered mountains and area below us. We had come a really long way, and I felt so proud. I had never understood why people hiked long distances until today. The sense of accomplishment followed by the breathtaking views made it all worth it.

Soon, I realized we still had to come down…and I panicked hard.

I thought it was hard enough to hike up, but it was harder mentally to make yourself come down. Again, it was all about the strategy -where I would place my next foot, and how I would bend my legs to keep my balance. The path was just so rocky and it was hard to tell which rocks were sturdy enough to step on. When we were coming down, I had several mini heart attacks because I thought I would lose my balance and just slip off the mountain. I did slip, many times, but I’m still alive. When I felt I couldn’t make the next step without losing my balance, I simply sat and slid down the painfully steep slopes. Yup, I actually slid down. Therefore, the back of my pants were completely messed up from the sliding. Erla held my hand several times when I thought I’d fall, so I really wouldn’t have made it down that mountain without her. Erla, you are an angel.

After getting down that challenging mountain, the hike up and down other mountains was so much easier. The path was rocky still, but it was nowhere near as steep as the mountain we just got off of. About 4 hours later, we got back on regular land and headed for our camping site. It was such a relief to be back on normal ground again. Everyone rejoiced and gave each other high-fives. What a long, challenging journey it had been. We headed back to our tents to change and then had dinner. After dinner, there was a campfire. However, I was way too exhausted for any more activity. I wasn’t sleepy, but all I wanted to do was lie down in my sleeping bag, so I brushed my teeth, washed my face and went in my tent to relax. Eventually, I managed to fall asleep.

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