Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.
You need special shoes for hiking—and a bit of a special soul as well.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
Lockdown is getting long. Unfortunately, it is not Lockdown that is getting too long, it is the isolation that is getting long. Lockdown Level 1 allows us much freedom. Even so I can still get infected and I would still prefer not to be infected.
Fortunately, I can hike again. Not in a group, since I am not fit enough yet and do not want to keep fellow hikers back.
Hiking has so many benefits, it is impossible to list them all.
Hiking, to me, is an exceptionally good motivation to visit the gym and work hard. There is nothing better than getting off the mountain and still have energy left to do a good “victory dance.” There is nothing better than walking up a long hill and reach the top with “fuel left.” Fitness on the mountain is a bonus. And fitness all over is good for health.
Fitness is not only physically good; it also has psychological benefits. The saying goes a healthy body accommodates a healthy spirit. Sweating in the gym has a huge benefit – somehow, I always feel less stressed after exercising my t-shirt like I wore it in the shower. It is as if the stress just flows away with the sweat. Sweating in the mountain is just so much better. It is indeed a stress eraser and gets all the endorphins flowing.
What Cannot be Verbalized
There is something to being out in nature that I cannot put into words. Perhaps it is not meant to be verbalized. It is a connection, almost like a connection that gets reset. It is like rebooting a Windows computer. It is like switching off the modem and switching it on. Perhaps Windows is not the best example, because it is not always better after a reboot! But that shows the expectation of a day on the mountain. You get back and the kinks are out.
Bodysurfing at Victoria Bay has this in the extreme. After a day in the waves, my sinuses are clean. Not only my sinuses are washed clean, but also all the nonsense in my head is washed away. That is a day in nature.
You are reset.
There is something to sit in silence with the breeze blowing through your shirt, looking down on the world from above. It breeds a calmness. It takes you away from the everyday problems of existence in the modern world. Away from email, computers, mobile phones, and WhatsApp’s. It also puts you in perspective in terms of where you fit in the universe! Nobody can look out over the Cape Peninsula from Table Mountain and feel arrogant. No Mr Big in the Mountain (unless you waste a good experience!) Nobody can sit in the shade of a rock in the Cederberg and feel overly important!
Hiking always has a sense of achievement. The joy of survival. I experienced that exuberance again as if new with my last two hikes. Just under seven months after my knee replacement I hiked up Devil’s Peak. My first hike in 24 months. At the start there is the uncertainty – will I be able to make it? Will my knee keep up? Am I fit enough?
When we hiked at Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg Bay recently, I at least knew I could do Devil’s Peak. So, I started more confidently.
At the same time, even when we are out hiking almost in civilization, you are fairly much on your own. What will I do if I cannot go further? Either a helicopter must come and lift me out, or Mountain Rescue will have to carry me out on a stretcher. Neither one an option I would like to experience. Some areas where we hike is not so civilized – there help cannot be summoned by phone. That increases the sense of adventure.
The Beauty of “Nothingness”
Everything above is just magnified when you sit down, back to a rock or a tree, take out your lunch and eat it with an “empty mind.” The joy of being and living. I normally express this feeling like this: “Sixty million people in South Africa, 7 billion people on earth, and just I (or we few) are here today and now! What an experience. Or standing at the top of the mountain, looking out over the vast expanse of mountain after mountain, the favourite saying: “Just imagine the people walking on high heels in the mall!”
There are many reasons to hike – each and everyone a good reason.
My heart is filled with gratitude that I can it.
Do you hike? Share your thoughts and experiences about hiking in the comments. What is your favorite place to hike?