Nature’s Narcotic

2017 – the year I finally started drinking the hiking Kool-Aid. I had previously never understood why people voluntarily subjected themselves to physical exertion and intense discomfort while on precious vacation time, or why the view from a summit couldn’t simply be enjoyed from a photo (two words: drone photography).

I’ve since learned that it’s not so much the view as it is the sense of self that is enjoyed at the top; the satisfaction that comes at the end of perseverance, and the savouring of a peak you worked hard to get to. Nature’s very own narcotic.

Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock), Norway

Conventional wisdom preaches that the journey is always the greater experience to be had – not the moment at the summit. As much as I dislike clichés, this rang all too true during each climb.

It’s like life really, even when you lose all semblance of motivation and am wondering why on earth you did this to yourself, the only thing you can do is to keep putting one foot ahead of another, and to keep moving along. Hiking turned out to be quite the formidable teacher to an ill-disciplined mind. So much of the journey is mental, that the hours on the indoor treadmill or the yoga mat only take you so far.

Mount Pico, Portugal

As much as the incline burns your quads, calves, and lungs – each step forward takes you that much further, and higher. Nothing else in life is guaranteed quite the same way. One of the earliest lessons I learned out of school (while still fresh in the corporate world) was that reward is never commensurate with effort. Of course there are times where hard work absolutely pays off and you prop your feet up in the evenings and bask in a job well done. But there are even more times where you sacrifice both sleep and sanity and at the end of the day get less – or absolutely nothing – in return.

Lunch with Mt. Azumaya, Japan

Little by little, you plod on. And then you’d surprise yourself. You reach the summit, and look down at the view, and be amazed at just how far a pair of legs can take you.

芝麻灣 (Sesame Bay), Hong Kong



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