Why the Unpredictable Nature of Hiking Makes Life Worth Living
Throughout my life, hiking has always been something that both excites and terrifies me.
Before I even had ability to walk, my parents would carry me in their backpacks along their hikes. As a very young child, I looked at the environment in wonder. I didn’t have the slightest idea what I was looking at, but the incredible color palette of the Boulder County trails kept me coming back for more. It kept me curious, and gave me an unshakeable feeling of wanderlust many years before I even knew what the word meant.
As I grew, I gradually felt more comfortable in nature. My childhood curiosity demanded to know more about Boulder’s landscape, and the more I went hiking, the more I was able to understand about the environment. I learned that rocks were painful landing pads, I learned not to touch the sticky sap on pine trees, and I quickly learned how sharp cactuses were. In fact, the more I hiked, the more I lost my trust in nature. Hiking was unpredictable, sometimes uncomfortable, and always dirty. Despite these things, I still had a lust to go exploring. The vast wilderness had a sublime beauty that was both terrifying and fascinating to my childhood self.
As my childhood crossed into adulthood, I began to embrace the unpredictability of nature. I eventually grew old enough to adjust to a routine: wake up, go to school, go to work, relax, and sleep. I began living the same generic day for many weeks in a row, and it was bombastically boring. The mysterious uncertainty of the Rocky Mountains gradually became more and more enticing: hiking was a means of programming unpredictability into an otherwise predictable schedule.
No two hikes would ever end the same. Sometimes, I would come back with memories of locking eyes with an elk. Other times, I would come back soaked in rain with scabbed knees and torn jeans. Every hike produced a new story with new challenges, and I grew to love nature’s obstacles as time progressed: I loved the adrenaline that pumped through my veins when lightning struck a nearby mountaintop. I loved the fear that enveloped my body when dark rainclouds chased after me. I loved the heart-stopping moments of encountering wild animals. These obstacles are what makes nature so scary, but also what makes nature so appealing.
I love hiking, and every passing day, my lust to walk the unpredictable wilderness only grows.
I still hike as often as possible. Just last weekend, I hiked with my roommates to Twin Sisters peak. We drove up a rocky dirt road, eventually getting to a small parking area. As we hiked the serene trail, we encountered icy trails through forests of granite and pine. Once we reached the top of the mountain, the sky grew dark and a halo of storm clouds began to close in on us. We ran down the trail, encountering a pair of friendly dogs and a light amount of falling snow. By the time we got to the car, the snow grew denser and the sun had fallen below the crest of the mountains. The hike was a glorious adventure.
When life gets too monotonous, It’s important to program a little uncertainty. Boulder has a seemingly endless amount of trails, and every trail has an endless amount of different possibilities. (If anyone interested in visiting Twin Sisters peak, it’s quite pretty but it requires an 4WD vehicle to access the trail.) No matter how often one has hiked a trail, nature has a way of making things interesting on every consecutive hike. After all, hiking has never been about the destination.
It’s about the journey.