The Five Stages of Hiking

Scrambling up a gully
Scrambling up a gully

I got back yesterday from my annual hiking trip with my dad. We chose to visit Snowdonia this time, a beautiful national park in the north of Wales. The scenery is truly astounding, and the weather was gorgeous throughout the whole trip…  But now I’m covered in mosquito bites, I’ve got dozens of bruises and my whole body aches in the same way I imagine it would as if I had just deadlifted a cow. It’s not a pleasant sensation.

This discomfort I’m feeling might be partially due to the way I approach mountains. You see, I call it hiking, but it’s more of a mixture of scrambling, stumbling and complaining. After all, I’m not the fittest person in the world. My idea of a good evening isn’t “go to the gym and eat a nice healthy salad for dinner”, it’s “sit in bed and watch Netflix with my good friend, popcorn”.

But hiking isn’t about fitness. It’s about determination. And I believe that the majority of able-bodied people are capable of conquering a mountain, they just need the right attitude. So, I decided to write out what I believe to be “The Five Stages of Hiking” in order to illustrate the setbacks you will encounter, should you choose to take on the challenge:

1) Denial

Within the first five minutes of the trip, you feel exhausted. You’re out of breath, you’re starting to sweat, and you’re kind of wishing you hadn’t agreed to do this. But you choose to ignore these sensations, along with the reality that you’ll be feeling that way for the next two or three hours at least.

2) Anger

As you get further up the mountain, you find yourself getting frustrated. Maybe you make a wrong turn and have to go back on yourself. Maybe you slip and graze your leg. Maybe you reach up to a ledge to pull yourself up, only to find that a sheep had used that particular spot as a bathroom only a few hours before.

Tryfan
Tryfan

3) Bargaining

The tiredness starts to kick in. The journey feels endless. You tell yourself that you’ll get to that next big rock, and then you can have a brief rest. “If you reach that plateau within five minutes, you’re allowed some Kendal Mint Cake,” you think to yourself. 

4) Depression

Every time you think you’re getting closer to the top, an even higher point looms into view. You feel defeated, worn out, and, quite frankly, a bit gross from all the sweat and mud you’re covered in. A large part of you wishes that you could turn back right now. You begin to wonder how unethical it would be to feign an injury so that mountain rescue would come and fetch you.

5) Acceptance

AT LAST! You reach the top! The views are breathtaking, the cold winds are surprisingly refreshing, and the energy bar you accidently crushed when you slipped on that boggy patch has never tasted so good before. After a brief amount of time at the peak, you know what has to come next. You have to descend from your triumphant position of glory.

View from the top of Snowdon
View from the top of Snowdon

Seriously, though, if you ever find yourself in a position to go trekking up a mountain, do it! Nothing compares to the feeling you get at the top. No matter how many times you fall over, or feel like giving up, or get overtaken by someone older than your grandma, you’ll still be somebody who reached the peak. And, once you reach the bottom again, you really don’t feel so guilty about lazing around for the next few days.

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