The Thrill of Hiking
A gust of cool, refreshing wind touches one’s skin like a swift hurried hug from a booster. What started as slow, steady gait begins to take a rhythmic pattern. The exhilarating feeling of determined pace to take a leisurely afternoon walk eventually becomes a determined persistence, not only to indulge in physical activity but to experience the world. What initially was a regular neighborhood pastime now evolved into a delightful leisure time, an anticipated culminating event, a reward to ease a tired soul through discovering the thrill of hiking.
The moment I planned to engage in a summer trip to Mount Whitney, my mind concocts images of trekking an adventurous path. I envision a group of excited friends with compactly prepared knapsacks on their backs frantic to summit. Talks about reaching the apex amidst the blue horizon uncease. The anticipation on the eve of the journey sends shivers to one’s senses precluding the natural invitation for slumber.
At dusk, the excitement begins to unfold with the warmth embrace of the rising sun as the backdrop. Hikers begin an aspired trek to the glorious destination. The smell of crisp brown fallen leaves crack from each step, each pace at the trodden trail. The dewdrops from flora tingle the back of hikers’ hands and arms as each passes by bushes, shrubs and woody plants. No one can ignore the jubilant chirping of a California quail that seems to accompany the stompers to their ascent.
After several challenging hours and hundred of miles of walk, dribbling perspirations continue to mire vision like drizzles on windshields. A quick rehydrating drink from filtered cold water quenched our thirsts. A dissipated rest under a perfectly shaded pine provided the opportunity to restore energy and leg work. A gush of trickles from a nearby stream signals the change in humidity – the journey embarks on its climax.
The climbers savor the view and experience of trekking rocky slopes, locating sheer cliffs, and enjoying the bravados of every easy scrambles. There were parallel paths across challenging ascents to be blessedly met by open meadows and incredible panoramic views that are simply breathtaking. Nature at its best is seen, smelled, touched, felt and heard. The warmness of the humid air eventually evolves into sporadic ice and snow at the summit.
As the golden sun slowly losing its luster, the climbers have finally reached the summit with unwavering spirits and the accolade of success. The summit is a sight to behold across the night sky enveloped in the brightness of stars and constellations. Nothing can compare to standing in a remarkably magnificent place that seemed to be on top of the world to enjoy and share the expanse, not only of mountain ranges, intermittent with deep ravine and valleys unreached by man, but of the entire sight of the universe. Despite aching feet and legs, with exhausted physique, hikers like me, descent the slopes with minds planning the next adventurous journey.