The best answer to people who ask ‘why climb mountains?’ is George Mallory’s answer to climb Mt Everest “Because it is there.” No one will understand why we do it until they have spent sometime on the mountain in the severity of nature.
I have so much love for the mountain, I come from a hiking family and I have been hiking since I could walk, I have hiked the Drakensberg, the Magaliesberg and done 10 day hikes in the Cederberg. I have had my trusty Hi-Tech hiking boots since I was 16 and those have done many hundreds of kilometres and they are still going strong with a little bit of glue and duck tape here and there. From my experience of hiking mountains, small and large, I have learnt how mountains test your essence, they bring out the best and the worst in you, and they are completely unforgiving. There is an element of the unknown and will always test your physical and mental skills. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing, but what you take away from the mountain goes well beyond the satisfaction of pushing your limits. No matter how much the mountains test you, they drive your adrenaline that keeps you coming back for more, after all if you had a good experience with good conditions you will have no stories to tell people. There is always a sense of curiosity of what is around the next bend; That horrifying exciting sight of a higher mountain than the one you just climbed, a beautiful clear rock pool sparkling in the sunlight, walk out of a forest into a completely open landscape with not a tree in sight or a small secluded village. What you see around that next bend will often be unknown, a surprise, bring a sense of excitements, fear or all 3. The best part is even if you have been there a million times, it’s never the same, and you rarely have the same experience.
For a quiet person like me, who loves her space, I think my favourite part of hiking mountains is the thrill of reaching the top after pushing my limits and looking down as the ground suddenly drops away into the valley below. I love how quiet and peaceful it is. Quiet is the best noise. I love the stillness and calmness of an empty trail. It reminds me how much I love hearing no noise at all. I feel absolute freedom as I have the opportunity to slow down and disconnect. I love to wake up early and climb to the highest point just to watch the sunrise before it does. Actually I don’t love to wake up early, but it is just worth watching the sun peak over the valley below turning everything gold, it is just magical.
Go climb a mountain, you’ll love it!