What I have learned from hiking

I love hiking! Living in Switzerland most time of the year, I am blessed with a spectacular nature right on my doorstep. Even though there’s not much of it in Basel, after an hour or two train ride, you’re in another world. Surrounded by nature and with the goal of climbing a mountain.

Every hike is a great experience but also means leaving the familiar surroundings and rituals for one or more days. It starts with getting up early, putting on suntan lotion, carrying the backpack, the heavy hiking boots on my feet and an excitement in my stomach that sometimes makes me not sleep well the night before. But once on the road, it all turns into the anticipation of experiencing something new. And when you step off the train at your destination and breathe in the fresh mountain air, suddenly everything that is everyday life is far away.

Tierhörnli, Adelboden, Switzerland

Step by step reaching the goal

Most of the time a peak is the goal of the hike. Often this peak is already visible from the starting point as it towers somehow steeply and unreachably high above your head. Then thoughts run through my mind like, “What??? We’re supposed to get up there?” or “Will I make it?” But then off you go, following the trail, putting one foot in front of the other and concentrating on the steps. No matter how steep, no matter how long, in the end it’s always single steps you take and they move you forward slowly but steadily. The further you go, the higher you climb, the landscape changes. It changes continuously. What looked like an insurmountable wall from below turns out to be a steep but passable hilltop over which a path leads. Sometimes, however, valleys open up that you have to cross before you can climb up again. Streams over which you have to jump or scary precipices along which you have to walk.

Hiking is for me the most beautiful way of getting out of my comfort zone.

Matthias

Hiking in the mountains is like reaching all the goals you want to achieve in life. You have an idea, a dream and at the beginning it seems to be unattainable. It takes a plan, some courage and the willingness to leave the comfort zone and get involved in something new. Every goal, no matter how big, can be divided into small, feasible steps. Like most things in life, there are many individual parts that make up the whole thing. You need to make a roadmap, a plan, on which you concentrate and follow step by step toward your goal. There are risks, setbacks, exhausting moments in which you ask yourself why you are doing this to yourself. But there are also great moments when you realize how far you’ve come. And at some point you suddenly find yourself where you wanted to be – an indescribably beautiful feeling!

Alpenroses at Majingbärgli, Leukerbad, Switzerland

Other analogies

The mountains are full of surprises and offer perfect metaphors that can be applied to our everyday lives. The alpine flora, for example. Summer in the mountains is short. Very short. All life takes place within a few months, between snowmelt and new snow. What grows during this time is usually very small. The flowers often grow no higher than one inch. But that doesn’t stop them from blooming in the most beautiful colors and shapes you can imagine! I have rarely seen such beautiful wildflowers as I have on high altitude tours. What looks from a distance like barren rock with some green in between, turns out to be a blooming wonderland up close. Often these flowers bloom in a barren sea of rocks, proudly defying the inhospitable gray surroundings and accenting the landscape with their vibrant colors.

Alpine flora at Torrenthorn, Leukerbad, Switzerland

We should be just as undaunted to blossom in our lifes. Even if we are small. Even if our surroundings or conditions are not ideal. We should always believe in ourselves and get the best and most beautiful out of ourselves and the conditions that are given to us. It is not about how long we do something and how much recognition we get for it. It is about the fact that we do it. That we recognize our very individual being and bring it to bloom. To live out proudly and with joy what we are, what we desire and what makes us happy.

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