Yes. My thighs were itchy from chafing. Yes, I felt as if I had the entire “Bugs Life” cast chilling in my hair. Yes, I was anxious about the logistics of having to ‘go to the bathroom’ where there was a very obvious lack thereof and yes, I had the time of my life.
Growing up with a shameful amount of influence from Hannah Montana, I recall one of the questionable ‘deep’ and ‘profound’ things she taught my pre-adolescent self, was that “Life’s a climb, but the view is great”. Yet, on the other hand, I would hear that “it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey”. Needless to say, I’ve never been too sure about my relationship with hiking. Admit-tingly, I’ve never been one of those active types you would find smiling on brochures without a drop of sweat and an overenthusiastic thumbs up.
A while ago, if my life were to be described as a climb – it felt steep and the view ended being average and questionably worth-it, as the sweat stung my eyes and made it foggy. Or, I probably would have forgotten my glasses and I would have had a far better experience staying in bed and binge-watching travel bloggers with a side-dish of depression. Things, however, changed a few months ago – when I packed my boots (that weren’t made for walking) and set off with a group of close friends to go on a two-day hike.
It was time for me to do something at least remotely active in my 22 years of procrastinating it, and we decided that adventure awaits. We chose to go somewhere close to home at the time and found The Two River Trail. We were a small group which meant it would either be very relaxed, or I’d have to keep up, try and act casual and not annoy everyone with my heavy breathing.
As soon as we started our venture, I realized to my own surprise that I was stuck in a rut. A rut that was extremely good at hiding itself behind routines, laziness and lack of motivation. Taking a hike to make my self feel like a functional human being, however, was the last thing I thought would work. The best part is, I didn’t have to channel my inner ‘Bear Grylls’ to come to this long overdue awakening that nature, walking, fresh air and the beautiful outdoors actually made me happy. Like really happy. I had somehow forgotten that in the chaos of life, even when it wasn’t that chaotic. It made me feel alive. Fucking plot twist kids – the graphics are better in real life.
The scenery changed around every corner. The entire walk felt as if I finally had time to think. Time to breathe. Time to listen. Time to be surrounded by absolute silence and time to experience the people around me in different settings. Not to sound cliché, but it isn’t very hard for the flicker of a bonfire to look more appealing than the artificial light from my phone. It wasn’t very hard for the sound of partying students in my apartment block to not stand a chance against the sound of the guitar echoing through the campsite, or my closest friends laughing with glasses of cheap red wine. It wasn’t very hard for me to notice how beautiful everyone around me was with the sun setting in the background.
There were times where we talked for hours, there were times where it was dead quiet. There were times where I was so lost in thought, that I thought that if I were to ever have any existential crisis ever again – I would just start walking.
Now, almost 8 months later, I still look back on that trip. But that’s the thing, I guess. It shouldn’t just be a trip, but rather a state of mind. You don’t need to go far either. The other day I literally just walked around my block, looked up for a while, and saw the trees, the mountain, the bright purple flowers, the faint smell of someone in the neighbourhood having a braai and the cars driving in the distance – all going somewhere else. Every little thing that is usually so easy to miss – so subtly demands your attention, and boy is it worth giving attention to.