I am a nature freak. I love every type of outdoors, plants and animals. And please don’t get me wrong. Being a big city animal, I enjoy the city life too. But it’s in the nature where I find my real peace and re-connect with my inner self better. One of the best experiences of this kind for me is going to the mountains. It doesn’t matter whether they are very high, nor which country they belong to. If I feel like I need a break, which for me means stopping my mind and moving my body, I take a hike. Here’s why.
1. If you aim high, there are peaks you can reach. So whether you want a physical or a mental challenge – you can achieve it. Not without a reason taking your time out in the mountains is often recommended for people recovering from traumatic stress. For me being afraid of hight in certain situations, hiking is a perfect form of overcoming this purely psychical barrier. Of course, all with a common sense and joy in mind.
2. Big chances are that you can be there alone in the mountains. Sometimes all you need is detaching yourself from the outer world for some time in oder to be able to look into yourself and think clearly again. Mountain landscape is mysterious and powerful yet peaceful and totally zen. In the end, over the centuries Asian zen masters conducted their zen practice alone in the deep mountains.
3. And if you meet somebody, they are likely to be there for the same reasons: seeking peace and quiet, experiencing the purity of nature, wanting an active challenge. And by saying active, I mean getting up early, packing up your gear and going on a few hour long hike. Be prepared for an unexpected though, like sudden weather changes or even that you might need more time to get to your destination than you had predicted. It happened to me and my partner once and I’ve documented it here.
4. Hiking and mountain climbing is a form of meditation. It doesn’t mean that you have to isolate yourself from the company of others, but keeping silent while walking, will not only sharp your senses, but also help you achieve the maximum concentration. And you need this concentration much more in the mountains than say, on the beach. It proved right during my last trip on the peak of the Staufen mountain in Upper Bavaria, as the hiking involved some climbing too.
5. Mountains teach you endurance, humbleness and achieving big goals with the small steps method. Qualities necessary in every day life.
6. You meet animals. Some being in their natural surroundings, like deers or salamanders, other being the lucky domestic ones like happily gazing cows or travelling dogs. I you are attentive and open, you might even meet them face to face. For me looking at and interacting with animals is one of the best stress-relieving methods I’ve ever experienced. It’s surely the clash of a thinking with a non-thinking mind, of ‘have’ with a simply ‘be’.
7. You get to see absolutely stunning views. The way itself is certainly the goal, but so is reaching the top and admiring the landscape. And hey, you’ve totally earned it!