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Cami Hill, Summit Chaser

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Before the snow started falling, I took a 3-day backpacking trip to Twin Peaks. It was the first overnight hiking adventure I had experienced, and let me tell you it was simply astonishing. I have always been an outdoorsy type of person, and I enjoy getting away from the business of the city and responsibilities that society puts on my life. Being in snow-tipped mountains for 56 hours with no trace of civilization was something I was completely okay with. On my trip I discovered a new sense of place and noticed things about myself that seemed to be irrelevant before. Snow or no, I urge everyone to crack out the hiking boots, tent, instant coffee, and take a hike.

Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by luscious trees that smell as vibrant as they look, the crisp air that whispers through the valley of sky-high mountains, or the animals that call these places home. Ultimately, the most distinct thing about hiking in the wilderness is the wilderness itself. I felt utterly insignificant. It seemed as though I was nothing more than a grain of sand in a vast ocean, surrounded by things that were a millions times my size. Because of that, my problems, my worries, and my insecurities felt irrelevant. There was this whole other world that seemed to just be hidden by our social media stricken culture. It was berserk to me on the bus ride there, looking up to the mountains in the distance and thinking we are going to be there, those mountain are going to be our home in the next few hours. I remember getting out of that same bus and needing a second to adjust to the air that literally took my breath away. It was different and refreshing in the most fascinating way, leaving me physically affected.

After we began the hike and started heading toward our destination, I kept thinking about how between me and two other people, we had all we needed to survive in the middle of nowhere. (Of course this excluded the fact that we only had enough food to last three days, even with our excessive amount of Bonbons that we spent ten dollars on at Bulk Barn). But it made me realize how materialistic we tend to be. I mean, if I could fit what I need to survive in a 60L backpack, is it really necessary to buy whatever trendy thing I was trying to convince myself makes my life better.

This thought of materialism hung in the back of my mind throughout the hike. Especially when we found ourselves stuck inside my tent for 15 hours during a snowstorm on the peak of the mountain we were camping on. Getting to that spot felt like being on the brink of death, as we had to climb a near-vertical uphill on very unstable rocks, reminding me that the most important things in life are dogs and hot showers. Regardless of the weather, we had to endure, I still would not change a thing. I felt it made me grow as a person, and I realized how far I could push myself. What a strange thing that something so simple could impact a person so much.

Exploring the outdoors involves a lot of vigorous activity that requires a lot of exercise. Not only are you hiking over rough terrain that at points takes you straight uphill for what could be miles, but you are also carrying 30-50 pounds on your back. As a person who is generally fit, it was still a struggle for me, not to say that this is a bad thing. When exercising you release endorphins, (hormones that make you feel happier) so combining the natural ‘happy’ drug, and the feeling you get from experiencing what the world has to offer, you could say goodbye to crossfit and hello to hiking.

Another great thing about being in the outdoors, is that you tend to find who you are as a person. You learn how you react to certain situations and what matters the most to you. When hiking by yourself you have a lot of alone time for self discovery. When hiking with others you tend to socialize and connect more with them directly instead of through social media or texting. It’s nostalgic in a way… it harkens back to a time when you actually had to talk to someone face-to-face rather through a digital barrier. You can share ideas, and express your opinions without any distractions.

I urge whoever is reading this to get out of your comfort zone and explore what the world has to offer. Whether it be a hike or travelling to a nearby town, what is out there is beautiful and if you let it, it can teach you so many great things.

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