What I Learned From My First Hike

July 11, 2013

Sunday afternoon was a special afternoon. It was the afternoon that I went for my first hike ever. I know what you’re probably thinking—“You’re not a hiker?” Shocking, I know. But being that we were in Ithaca for the day with not much else to do other than drink mood-altering tea (not my thing) and shop the hippie farm market (which seemed flush with health code violations), I decided that a first-time hike sounded exciting. Also, I’ve always heard (or read on bumper stickers and t-shirts) that Ithaca is gorges and I wanted to confirm that for myself. Buttermilk Falls was our landing point and as I exited the car and doused myself in bug repellent and sunscreen, I prepared for the sereneness of nature that I’ve heard so much about. Up and up we hiked through the muddy trails while I beat gnarly bugs out of my eyes and ears (the only body parts not covered in Off). The sweat started to pour, my lips started to sting, and I wondered loudly where the enjoyment in hiking was. There were SO. MANY. BUGS. And even more sweat. Burning calves, tingling lips, and muddy shoes. I really wasn’t sure what all the hype was about, as we just seemed to be painfully climbing to nowhere. And then we reached the top. Where there were just more trees and more of me wondering aloud why people enjoy this torture and choose to make it their hobby even. Until we started hiking down the other side. Which is when my attitude was checked as I learned that there was a reward in hiking. A quite stunning reward in fact. There were gorgeous gorges and waterfalls and dogs frolicking and streams and lush moss covered walls of rock—and it truly was breathtaking. As I removed my sneakers and danced through the streams and under the majestic waterfalls, it occurred to me how much hiking relates to just life in general. We work hard and then work harder and toil and climb through life, not knowing what lies on the other side—If anything. We have to beat the bugs out of our faces and spray ourselves with protective layerings and sweat and struggle, all with a faith that there is a reason to this—a reward waiting for us on the other side. I say ‘faith’ because as much as I didn’t know that there were waterfalls on the other side of my journey up the hill (foolishly, as Dan would point out since it was called Buttermilk Falls), we don’t know what’s waiting for us on the other side of anything we choose to invest ourselves in. I’ve been struggling with this notion of faith in the unknown a lot lately, which is why Sunday’s hike was so affirming to me. The Dollop Book of Frosting is nearing its publication date and as excited as I am about this and as proud as I am of the finished product, I’m fighting to have faith that it will get me to where I want to be. I’m fighting to have faith that my ever-changing journey is changing in the direction I want it to go. Even as I write this, I’m fighting to have faith that anyone even cares about this hiking metaphor. It’s hard to have faith sometimes. But if we can manage to have faith in tomorrow and keep working up that hill today, the sight from the other side just might be incredibly and peacefully 'gorges'.   What do you love most about hiking?

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