On a recent hike I passed a spur trail to some cool cascades. I had a goal to get some artistic pictures of the stream, but I pushed on instead. I wanted to get to the top of that mountain, to my awaiting car, and on the road to a fat juicy burger. Done – I was at he point where I just wanted to be done.
I’ve written about the benefits of depriving ourselves so we don’t take everyday life for granted. But I also believe if you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, you appreciate yourself and what you can do more.
I love working for the view. Last year when I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I took some pleasure in knowing that I not only had to hike down and back up 4,000 feet in elevation, but I had to do it with a heavy pack because it’s too rugged to do in one day. If I was going to see what it is like inside the Grand Canyon, I was going to have to work for it.
We don’t get stronger without tearing our muscles. And I believe putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations – like being sore, cold, or hungry – tears the muscles of our souls in order to grow them. But it’s the “good sore.”
Sometimes when I’m tired, cold, or hungry, I repeat the mantra “You like to do this.” It might seem odd to the everyday person for me to have to remind myself that I like to do it. But the thing is as soon as I’m off the trail I miss it.
And then I think, “If I can handle that bit of being uncomfortable, I can handle whatever else life throws at me.”
I would tell you that I’d like hiking to be effortless. That I could go into nature and experience the peacefulness and solitude without suffering. But to be honest, I don’t choose the effortless trails. I go for the challenge. If a trail is effortless to me, then I up my miles and hike it quicker, harder.
I interviewed a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail right as she was starting the trail. I asked her what part of the trail she look forward to seeing the most. She quickly answered, “Done!”
When she said this to me, she wasn’t saying she didn’t care about what happens along the way. She was talking about that feeling of accomplishment. I know that feeling.
I love setting goals and accomplishing them. And with hiking, you get to be in nature and see the most amazing things along the way. So the good sore is a little bit more bearable.