Whether you’re hiking, climbing or skiing, when you use your legs and feet to get up a mountain, you discover:
- Perspective. It’s obvious that as you climb higher, your point of view changes. How a mountain or valley appears from up high is different than it appears when you are down low. But the mountains give you more than just a different view. Mountain tops give you a different way of looking at life. How you look at yourself, nature and our place within it changes with gains in elevation. When you are surrounded by the results of geologic forces from millions of years ago, first world problems and big league stress suddenly seem like the small, momentary blips in time they actually are.
- The power of your mind for good. It can push you harder, farther, steeper, faster & higher than you’ve been before, or than you thought possible.
- The power of your mind for self-inflicted evil. Your mind can be the devil on your shoulder, literally. It has the power to overtake all rational thinking and convince you in that moment that you suck, that you aren’t capable, that you shouldn’t be there, that you’ve got to turn around and retreat in defeat. The mind opens the door to fear and self-doubt. As fast as your mind can rally your troops and make you climb higher, it can show its ugly side and take you down in a long, drawn out, emotional sweep. Thus the quote: “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
- Nooks, crannies, ledges and treasures off the beaten path. Most of us seek unique, authentic experiences – doing something first, seeing sites others haven’t, encountering a random piece of special in a world that increasingly feels similar.
- Your own path. Sometimes the less obvious route is the most fun and brings the best memories.
- The little differences. The cold, glacial drinking water. The day-old cookie that tastes like baking from the gods. The amazing people you meet and come to appreciate along the way.
- A respect for Sherpas & Mother Nature. For all the muscle and mind power it takes to get you up the mountain, you are humbled by the backload of gear you have to carry to get by. And even with all that stuff, nature can kick your ass off the mountain if she wants.
- A love of four seasons. On the mountain, you have to appreciate, prepare for and love spring, summer, fall and winter because you can experience any and all of them, at any time, even in July.
- The stark realization that what goes up must come down. But occasionally the mountain cuts you a break and gives you the opportunity to feel like a kid again.Photo credits: Stefan Scott