Recently, while hiking with a friend, I was particularly amazed by a very simple thing: the openness and friendliness of hikers. Now, this may seem awfully mundane to many of you, but in a world where many are used to looking at their phones and completely ignoring surroundings, this was an incredibly surprising and refreshing experience to me that totally shifted my mood on the hike.
Now, my friend and I chose to hike Mission Peak, which is by no means an easy hike and is around three miles long and two thousand feet high. And although we might have had a more relaxing time on an easier trail, the hike was unique as it accentuated the uplifting effects hiking had on us and other hikers, complete strangers who demonstrated incredible compassion and concern towards us fellow hikers.
For instance, hikers passing by would often give a smile, a wave and even words of encouragement like “You can do it!” or “Almost there!” In fact, when my friend and I took a short break from the hike, a hiker even stopped by to ask if we needed any water. His willingness to sacrifice his precious water on such a scorching afternoon was truly the confirmation I needed that the incredibly friendly nature of hikers was not just a coincidence or misunderstanding.
In fact, I was beginning to feel the effects of hiking itself, smiling sympathetically and offering encouraging words to other hikers at other hikers as we painstakingly climbed the hills. The struggle of the hike had allowed me to bond with these seemingly complete strangers, as we were both going through – and struggling, at least for me – through this ordeal together. And in the end we were all sweating, groaning and panting, completely exposed and in no shape to put up appearances or shields up. In fact, when my friend and I finally reached the top, we started laughing in relief, and were soon joined in by other hikes, utterly breaking down the barriers between us.
So although I may not choose a hike as difficult as Mission Peak again, I’m still glad I could meet and bond with many incredibly uplifting and compassionate hikers on the way, who completely altered the mood of my hike and made it infinitely better.