I discovered hiking a long time ago, when I was a child and I don’t think I particularly enjoyed it back then. I initially went for hikes with my parents, when I was a child and we used to spend a lot of holidays in the mountains. I enjoyed sleeping in a tent back then and spending time in large groups of family and friends. Hiking was just part of the activities of those type of holidays. I did not think about it so much, I just went along, but I did feel exhausted when doing it.
Later on, when in high school, I used to go on weekend trips with my friends and classmates. We would rent a house near the mountains and plan at least a day hike as part of that weekend escape. I did it several times, but I did not do it for the hike itself, but more to spend time in a group. It was also not particularly enjoyable, as we also drank quite a lot back then (which was more of a highlight of such a trip) which made hiking really exhausting.
When I left Romania, I did not go on hikes for a while. It was a combination of not having the right group of friends for that and being in places where there are not so many mountains. I did not realise how much I miss it and need it back then.
I did discover that again in Austria and it became my hobby that I would not like to go away from anymore. I realised that there is more to hiking than just the physical effort – it is about the nature, the opportunity to be with yourself and push yourself to new limits, the chance to spend quiet time with yourself and those people that are so close to you, that you can bring them in into your silence.
I associate hiking with breaking free. When I find myself in a difficult life situation, I think about hiking. There can be different types of hikes and even though I enjoy all of them because they bring me to nature, in order to break free, I need the high altitude hikes (at least 1800 meters), where you need to struggle so much to go up and when you are there, you feel above everything. I still do not enjoy the way up and I am struggling so many times when I do not prepare enough or when I am not in the best shape, but when I reach the peak, I forget all that and I feel genuinely happy. Mountains are my happy place and I wish to see them more often than I do at the moment.
One such happy moment which is still very present in my mind, especially during this pandemic year when adventures are a rare occasion, is the trip I took in the summer of 2018 with a dear friend of mine – my soul mountain friend. At the end of 2017, I made a joke at our Christmas party dinner, saying that we should climb the Mont Blanc. Back then it was a dream of mine which I did not think possible (probably because it was not at that time). In the beginning of 2018, my friend remembered what I said and we both decided, we should do it. We should book a trip to climb the Mont Blanc for that summer.
I will tell more about that memorable trip in another blog post. We did not climb the Mont Blanc, but I did make it on my first 4000+ mountain and it was a memorable experience. That reminds me that we should never stop dreaming because we can achieve what we set in our mind. We just need to believe and to work towards it!
What is your happy place?