Am I still a virgin hiker if this is not my first time? No matter, it’s all the same to me because each hike feels like I’m hiking for the first time. I should admit though, that my whole perspective about hiking is changing. You know how you hate to exercise? How you despise getting up before the rooster crows, putting on your best workout gear, having that grainy protein shake that tastes like ground chalk with egg whites, 12 grain toast sans butter and soy milk for breakfast before you start your grueling 30 minutes of heart pumping exercise?
Who LOVES exercise? Anyone who tells you they LOVE exercise is not being honest. Let me be honest with you - I don’t LOVE hiking. I don’t LOVE the heart pounding, leg aching, and sweat drenching, painstaking, mountain climbing act of hiking. Maybe having dinner with appetizers and dessert last night wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Today we are hiking Mt. Disappointment, (who named this mountain?) to a level of just about 6000 feet. My trusty guide assures me that after hiking Mt. Baldy, this will be an easy day. (Does that mean I get home before the sun sinks slowly into the west? We’ll see about that.)
Today, there are twelve of us, half of which are hiking this trail for the first time. The weather is good and everyone is prepared for the task at hand. I don’t know if there are any girl or boy scouts in the group but our guide tests our knowledge by asking us which way is the trail. Who’s leading whom? Even our guide’s trusty second-in command looks daunted as if it was a trick question.
Nevertheless, as our trek begins, my lungs immediately revolt and I ask myself – I’m doing this - WHY!? But, in what seems like the blink of an eye, the beauty of nature in all its glory stops us in our tracks. (It was actually a water break) We take in the scenery around us, everyone silently showing our appreciation to Mother Nature, snapping a few photos to preserve the memories. We get to our first landing and snap a few more photos as we continue on a service road for a short time to continue the final leg of a seemingly endless hike.
I haven't decided if I love hiking or not. Do I love the quiet? Yes. Do I love hearing the birds chirping, the bees humming and the ground crunching beneath my feet? Yes. Do I love being among the tall trees with the sun peeking through the leaves to reveal itself to me? Yes. Do I love hiking? NO. Why do I do this to myself? Because the reward is in the result that comes with challenging yourself, conquering your fears and because just like the exercise junkie who can’t get enough, I do believe I’m becoming a junkie myself.