One of my absolute favorite things to do is hike. I am not a runner, never have been. I hate going to the gym and working out on machines. My workout of choice is climbing mountains. Taking in the fresh air, the sun and breeze on my skin, and feeling so strong and powerful when I get to the top, looking down on the world around me…
There is no feeling like it.
Living in San Luis Obispo, I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by some beautiful mountains with a plethora of trails to choose from. However, I don’t own a car anymore so there is only one mountain in particular that I have easy access to when I am itching for some one on one time with miss Mother Nature. Funnily enough, this mountain is known by locals as “Madonna”. (No relation to the singer, sadly.)
Although a different hike, Madonna is pictured in the background.
I have hiked Madonna Mountain at least a hundred times since living in this town, and, although it is not my favorite, I still enjoy every chance I get to head to the top. Mountain bikes zoom past me with their bells ringing. Other locals pass by and nod hello or say “Good morning.” However, last week, I came to split in that path and decided that I was tired of doing the same ol’ trail for the millionth time (slight exaggeration there) and made a choice to explore the other side of the mountain. A side, I have to say, that I hadn’t been on in years.
It was the best hike I’d had in months.
As soon as I took the other path, the amount of people around me dropped to almost nothing. In the 2 hours that I proceeded to spend exploring the mountain, I think I passed maybe one or two people. It was so lovely to truly feel out about on my own with just my thoughts.
And boy, did those thoughts start flooding in!
So much so, in fact, that I had to get my phone out and start voice-dictating them into my notes. (Looking back on this particular note I am referring to, it barely makes any sense. I was rambling, and my iPhone didn’t seem to understand what I was saying very well through heavy breathing. Owell!)
As I continued along my new path, I kept coming to split in the road after split in the road. Some moving upwards, some heading back down, and some carrying on forwards. I had no clue where they would take me or which one I needed to get back towards the direction to my house, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t in a hurry and the feeling of just trying any path and seeing where it took me was exciting! I trusted that when I was ready to head home, I would find my way.
I know there is a life analogy in there somewhere for me…
I’m sure many people know this bench exists, but I still consider it my secret spot.
The feeling I had on this mini mountain adventure of mine was incredibly similar to the same feeling I get when I am traveling and I first land in a new destination. My favourite part of arriving somewhere I have never been is just walking around by myself – no map – taking in the smells and the sights and the sounds. Embracing the unknown.
It is scariest, yet most exciting, part of my trip.
I think there are a lot of people out there that try to plan every. single. moment. of their trips. In some instances, preparation is important, but, in all honestly, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. Nothing ever goes perfectly to plan when traveling is involved. It’s like some sort of rule or something. Embracing the unknown and trusting that the path you are on will take you to where you should be in that moment…Well, it can really lead you to some amazing experiences.
I have been incredibly travel-sick lately (as I usually am when I am living a “normal life” at home) and I really loved being able to enjoy those two hours running around a mountain on my own, feeling like I could have been anywhere in the world, far far away.
Needless to see, the other side of the mountain will be seeing a lot more of me in the future…
Panorama of San Luis Obispo, from the top of one of the many hikes to explore.