Mission Peak

The steady pound of my footsteps, accompanied with groans as the trail grew harder. The thick, dusty air, kicked up from our feet as we struggled to take the next step. The blazing sunlight on my back the sun crept higher, a persistent reminder that there was no turning back.

One day later, a shade darker and with multiple aching bones and sunburns, I sit back reminiscing on that memorable hike to Mission Peak. If only I had known when I was getting into…

After seeing the incredible views and pictures from Mission Peak, my desire for hiking this particular trail grew until one day, I finally arranged to hike the trail with a friend, both assuming it to be easy and relaxed.

We started the hike to Mission Peak with the sun just beginning to rise, a few rosy streaks peaking out onto the trail. Relatively flat at first, the trail soon rapidly grew more steep until we could only take a few steps until we needed a break, huffing and trying to add strength in our legs. Yet my friend and I persevered, refusing to give up on this hike and aiming for the ultimate goal – the peak (and Instagram-worthy photos along with it, of course).

So we kept on, step after step, hill after hill, mile after mile, a tiny fire rekindling in me every time I saw a hiker turn back. Yet my heart sunk when I saw the three steep hills that led to the peak. Almost crying out loud, I truly considered the fact of turning back, just calling it quits and sparing myself the pain of hiking those hills. But somehow we managed, and the satisfaction from standing on the peak made it infinitely worth the pain.

This hike totally blew me away; I had always imagined hiking as amiable, easy, and relaxed, but this hike was physically one of the hardest things I had to endure in a while. Step after step, with the end nowhere in sight, a hiker required infinite patience and faith to simply keep walking.

But what surprised me the most was the attitude of the other hikers. Many offered a friendly smile and words of encouragement, and it seemed as if this hike had somehow brought us closer through all the pain. So will I hike Mission Peak again? Probably not. But I was truly inspired by the bonds and experiences from hiking, and would definitely love to hike (an easier) trail next time :).

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Watching a Sunset

We see it every day. A pink hue slowly settling over the horizon, occasionally speckled with golden rays peeking through, a last remembrance of the day before the blanket of dark pulls over. Yet we often overlook it, viewing it as mundane, unremarkable, unimportant, it’s constant presence simply a routine occurrence in everyday life.

Recently, on the way home, I witnessed an amazing sunset, and I started to think. “When was the last time I had witnessed a sunset?” And then my train of thought carried on: “When was the last time I had seen a sunrise? A full moon? Or even stars?” And it struck me: I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen stars.

And then I began to wonder why. I had plenty of free time on my hands, at least enough to take a few minutes out of my day. Yet I had not taken a few minutes to simply watch a sunset. I was so wrapped up in my daily mundane affairs that I simply forgot to be aware and to observe my surroundings, to just take a break from the hustle and worries and to just sit and watch.

And this is the sad reality for many of us. So wrapped up in our duties, worries, stresses, we remain oblivious to so many incredible phenomenons around us. So whether it be a falling leaf, a towering pine, or a sunset, I’ll make sure I don’t hastily turn away, focused on my next task. And next time I see a sunset, I’ll be sure to just sit and watch. 🙂

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The Stigma Behind Monta Vista

Walking through the halls of Monta Vista, I have grown used to certain snippets of conversation: “I’m taking so many APs this year!” “I don’t know if I can keep my 4.0…” “I’m seriously so tired and stressed…” As a rising junior, I’ve begun to realize that these snippets are not just the whining of a teenager; these complaints are the signs of a serious issue that has enrooted itself into many high school mindsets.

Since when did high school become a place to cram AP tests, take harder classes and pile on more extracurriculars, rather than a place to enjoy your teenage years? Since when did summers become a chance to “get ahead” from your peers rather than hang out with friends? Since when did we become so engrossed with the thought of getting into a “good” college and being successful that we’ve begun to lose our roots, our youth?

That is the real issue: our environment, manifesting from the pressure from parents, peers and ourselves to do well, overloads us with stress, forcing us to take classes and extracurriculars we don’t want simply to match our peers, which thus increases stress and pressures peers into a never-ending cycle.

Even the FUHSD school district has started to realize the problem, proposing later start times, fewer allowed AP tests, and other alternatives to relieve stress. But the real root of the issue can’t be solved with an hour delay in the school schedule or less testing; it must come from us. Our mindsets are the driving force of this pressure, and I think we are the only ones capable of truly shifting our mindsets. Therefore, although I understand I should still try my best in school, I’m determined not to forget to live a little, to enjoy high school and to make some irreplaceable memories.

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As many of my friends know, I love playing badminton. Feeling the racket slice through the air to smash down a birdie is one of the greatest sensations I know, and my love for it has caused me to pursue this sport with outside training.

When I realized there was a badminton team for Monta Vista, I jumped at the chance to escape dreaded PE and still stay relatively in shape as well. Expecting a casual and low-commitment practice, I passed tryouts and joined the JV team.

However, I soon discovered that the team was entirely different than I expected. The “easy” practices I anticipated turned out to be grueling daily practices, which often extended to past the two hours we were required to do. The most dreaded aspect of all was the conditioning every Friday: burpees, push-ups, laps of bunny hops, and so much more…

However, I will always be glad I joined the team. Not only was I kept fit, I also made friends and irreplaceable memories only obtainable through pain and effort. The daily painful practices brought our team closer together, and soon I was able to laugh and joke with my teammates with every mistake I made, eventually even meeting up to play with them over the summer and breaks.

So if you or your kid is hesitant about joining a sport, don’t think too much: just try it! The memories and friends you’ll make from team are unforgettable, and irreplaceable.

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As I write this newsletter, my mom hastily yells at me to hurry up and start packing. In just three hours, I will be out in the wilderness, detached from civilization, for almost 48 hours… In other words, I’m going camping!

As ages have passed since my last camping experience, conflicting emotions have been rushing through my head. It’s difficult to imagine having to leave my cozy haven of familiarity, which fills me with reluctance and annoyance. However, another part of me leaps in excitement, ready for a new experience and adventure.

So will I enjoy this camping experience? Although it may be hard at first to adjust to a new environment, I’m also ready for a change, an escape from the lethargic routine of summer. Hopefully this camping trip will simply be a spark to ignite my adventurism: a start to pushing out of my comfort zone this summer!

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