Over a year and a half ago, I set out to climb New York state’s highest peak, Mt. Marcy. At the time, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into, but I had fallen in love with hiking. The climb was much more than I imagined it would be and challenged me in many ways, but it also opened my eyes to a new world, that of hiking the high points in the United States.
It wasn’t until this summer, however, when my big trip fell through, that I began to actually hike the other high points. I started looking up what was nearby and gathered a couple of friends to join me on the hikes. I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I needed to be, but I had a goal and was ready to begin reaching it.
But, why set the goal to hike the highest points in each state in America? Why not? Even though I have traveled a bit throughout the States, I hadn’t been to all of them and seeing them through the beauty of their natural surroundings would be the most ideal way for me to experience each state.
With each hike and each challenge behind it, I don’t just learn about the state or the park I’m visiting, I also learn more about myself. I have figured out my strengths and weakness, and what makes me tick on the trail. While I am always happy being outside surrounded by nature, the goal of reaching the high points is one that challenges me and consistently tests my limits.
From my six high point hikes so far, I have learned that I have a love-hate relationship with hiking, and often, I hate it for most of the climb. This all depends on many conditions including how physically prepared I am, how much I have had to eat that day, if I drank the night before, and the weather. I have learned that each of these factors are crucial in either helping or harming my abilities on my hikes.
While the way to the top can sometimes be a struggle for me, I make sure I keep pushing forward no matter what. I have also started to realize that my experience on mountains and trails is relatively new, and that my struggles are just part of my journey. Eventually, the more trails I hike on and the more preparation I have before, the better hiker I will become.
For now, no matter how much I may hate it on the way up, or however many times a mountain may break me down, I’ll continue to attempt my goal of hiking the high points. After every hike, whether it’s at the summit or as soon as I’m off the mountain, I find myself craving more time in nature and start to plan my next adventure. It’s almost as if it’s an addiction, and I can’t get enough, especially when each mountain and trail is so different than the last one.
Which is why, even with my failed attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Mansfield, and with only five high point summits under my belt, I’ll continue to keep at my goal and move forward to reach it. I’m not going to give myself a deadline, but I am going to actively prepare to hike each one, and increase difficulty over time. I’m going to make sure I enjoy the journey, no matter who may pass me along the way, and reach my goal to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my heart and mind to.