The last gleam of afterglow silently slipped below the horizon. Just as I was thinking whether I could head back down the hill in time, my fellow hiker told me that she recognized that tree with bright little flowers. I was surprised by how good her memory was. After all, we walk on this trail only once every year, and the last time we were here was over a year ago. The fact that she could tell that particular tree apart from the other hundreds and thousands of similar looking ones is just unbelievable. Not to mention that she has a terrible sense of direction when out and about in the city. She can barely recall a thing about the street that she has walked on for many dozens of times.
Every time I think of the encounters with that blossoming tree, I think of how people try so hard to survive in the city; some of them make it safe while some of them fail completely. Yet, that blossoming tree being right there at the same place year after year seems nothing but natural.
Living in the city requires immense courage. If you can’t get out in time, nightmares, palpitations, and anxiety will come to haunt you. I am glad that I found hiking — it is the only thing that can give me the courage and power needed to deal with the tough citylife. Just like how a car gets a refill in the gas station, I hike to regain my courage and energy. I wouldn’t say hiking can always get me out of the miserable daily life, and I don’t even know if it works for others, but I consider hiking as an instinctive psychological need.
Mountain goers are always ready to go back to the embrace of the mountain. Hoping for nice weather, selecting a route, and preparing for necessities…They are always preparing for the next hike. Whenever they think of the peaks and ridges under the clear blue sky, their eyes glow with anticipation.
Yet nature is always out of our expectation. A person would be all excited and thrilled when doing warm-up exercise, but then 60 minutes into the hike, when tiredness hits, he/she will start asking when the flat terrain will appear again. British writer Robert Macfarlane, who is best known for his books on landscape and nature, wrote in his fascinating work Mountains of the Mind, “Those who travel to mountain-tops are half in love with themselves, and half in love with oblivion.” Reality is always the opposite of imagination; while we think human suffering weighs on us, our existence is, afterall, insignificant in the vast and boundless time and space up in the mountain.
Before reaching the summit, mountain goers must first learn about their own limitations, and secondly, learn about the uniqueness of each mountain because things like sunset time, temperature drop, and sudden climate change could seriously affect them. What’s more, muscle aches and pains can hit the body any time. Though such pains can fresh up the mind, they can be daunting — they force you to keep up your pace until a shortcut appears or until you reach the summit.
I always wear my fine merino wool socks when I go on a hike. Even on strenuous paths, I could feel their nice cushioning over my sore feet. Afterall, socks and shoes are two of the most important gears for hikers. I firmly believe that the mountains are the reflection of reality. Either way, the path ahead is always rugged. Yet, I am happy to be in the mountains. I wish that I could stay on the strenuous path so that I can see the land of the uninhabited, put my hands on the dried plants, and listen to the whistling wind that is mixed with the sound of my breath and that of the pounding waves.