Similarities of Challenges On The Trail and Real Life

July 4, 2016

    A couple of years ago my boyfriend and I backpacked 25 miles in 3 days in Yosemite. Although I consider it a relatively comfortable hike, the days revealed some interesting insights on how I deal with uncomfortable situations. This year we will be taking another hike up to the Yosemite area it will be interesting to see how I've grown and changed this time around!

   Hiking is a mindful, focused, present activity - to be taken one step at a time, especially when descending a steep trail or ascending a big hill.

   Life itself is a series of challenges whether large or small. How do we respond to daily life? Do we panic easily and become frantic or stay positive and energetic? Do we make small problems big or make big problems small and dissolve them into nothing? How we face the normal events of each day is generally how we will face the bigger challenges. 

   On the first day we started on the west end of Yosemite Valley and headed up the Pohono trail which was straight up for about 7 miles. It was hot and my backpack seemed heavier than last year. The excitement I had before our adventure now turned into me wondering about my endurance. The heavy pack seemed to make me a bit unstable and I found myself compensating for my equilibrium. Life sometimes gives us these same challenges. The excitement of a new job, relationship or move can all be planned to perfection but once it happens unexpected issues or things begin to occur. How we handle  these unforseen obstacles reveals alot about ourselves. 

   Do I try to repack my backback to make it more comfortable? Do I get rid of some of the weight? Do I find another route? Small persistant steps are what made the difference. It was all about finding what worked. For me, knowing that I have to keep trying until I find something that works is how I resolve the situation. And it worked out that I needed to lighten, repack and tighten some straps. Thankfully, someone was willing and able to take on more weight.

   The wonderful thing about backpacking, even a short trip like this one, is access to places that not many people attempt on a day hike. Each lookout we encountered on the south rim of Yosemite Valley was more breathtaking than the last until we reached Dewey Point, which is just astonishing. The location and views will leave you speechless. Dewey Point marked the end of our climb out of Yosemite Valley to the rim. From there it flattened out.

   We camped near the foot bridge that crosses Bridalveil Creek on the Pohono Trail. The quiet at night was wonderful. After a surprisingly good breakfast of freeze dried scramble eggs reconstituted with boiling water and some Slo Roasted coffee that Jason had put into filter paper sewed shut, we headed up the Bridalveil watershed. While the day before was strenuous with spectacular views that reminded me of my fear of heights, the second day of hiking was a little easier as we made our way through lush meadows with beautiful landscapes of wildflowers, brooks and trees. 

   We gathered water from Bridalveil Creek using a hand pump water purifier, making us truly appreciative every time we took a sip of water. Some raindrops and sandy rock facings were the challenge of the day as my hips were beginning to ache. Jason's heel was forming a nice blister and fatigue set in sooner than later. We decided to stop at Bridalveil campground for a freeze dried pea soup lunch and a picnic table to rest our tiring feet. When you get fatigued, sometimes simple problems can feel bigger than they are - a loose rock or an unsturdy bridge could have set us up for a new challenge. The unpredictability of life is often like this. Instead of just marching onward to get to our next destination as fast as possible, we both realized that more rest stops, even if brief, were what we needed. Our ability to be flexible got us to our destination injury free. We arrived at the top of Chilnualna Falls about an hour before sunset. The bonus was a light rain to lull us to sleep in our tent that night.

   The last day was all downhill for almost 5 miles, challenging our legs in a different way. The terrain included more waterfalls from Chilnualna Creek and steep rocky steps with switchback trails. The fear of heights became my companion. Trying to see the beautiful views without feeling ill was my goal. The rain from the night before brought clear blue skies and gnats galore. I swear, no matter how much repellent you use, they can detect a straight shot into your eyes. Those little annoying things that life throws at you shouldn't cloud the beauty of what the day brings. Learn to bounce back and not let these inconveniences ruin your experience. Being surrounded by the majestic mountains and beautiful waterfalls reminded me that there is so much to see and experience in my lifetime.

   We walked out of the wilderness at about noon, just in time for a lunch of a convenience store cold sandwich, chips, and a beer - it tasted as good as anything I've had at a five star restaurant!

   Getting to know myself a little better is an adventure in itself. I continue to approach issues as challenges and with some experience now under my belt it will be interesting to see how this next adventure transpires.