Life Lessons Learned from Long-Distance Solo Hiking
Amanda Moller from Small World Matters is seriously kick-ass with so many life accomplishments and stories to tell, including those from over 20 years spent travelling the world and living abroad. Here, she shares with us the life lessons she has learned from long-distance solo hiking…
I’m not going to lie, I’m the last person you’d think would embark on a long-distance hike. You see the hikers on Instagram with their long limbs and perfect hair, #NotEvenPosing and sweating glitter. That is not me. I look like a potato with a hair-bun. My idea of exercise is dancing around the house to eighties music. I’m not exactly the poster girl for fitness but I do love adventure and am always up for a challenge. So, I thought about it. A long-distance hike? Sure, that sounds like a fun adventure. Why not?
I could easily give you the list of ‘why nots’, from sore… everything… to thunderstorms to mad farmers with shotguns (that’s a whole other story), but I find myself writing a list of why you should. Because pros and cons considered, this adventure left me energised, the accomplishment left me speechless, and the challenge showed me I can take on more in life than I thought.
Here is what I have learnt from long-distance solo hiking…
Your Body Can DO Incredible Things
For 50 days I walked 1046kms across the north of France. My legs navigated the rise and fall of mountains, the treachery of marshes and the barren monotony of sandy plains. And not once did my progress depend on what I look like in a bikini.
One day, exhausted, I climbed the peak of a coastal mountain and found myself staring at sparkling turquoise waters for as far as the eye could see. I’d never seen anything so breathtaking. How much of life had I wasted worrying what my body looked like instead of marvelling at its capability? How many of these sights and opportunities had I missed? Our bodies are incredible, no matter what they look like.
Nutrition is More Than a Number on a Weight-loss Calculator
For my body to recover from the onslaught it faced everyday, it needed a balanced intake of nutrition. One evening as I sat rubbing my thigh muscles and worrying about my lack of protein, it occurred to me how abstract it was that I used to count my protein intake on an app as part of a weight-loss diet. I used to be so blinded by a goal to fit into a dress that protein was just a number to crunch. Nutrition is now something that nourished my body and not to be taken for granted.
Never Start a Day with a Negative Mindset
I had a rule on the hike; never start a day with a negative mindset. Every day I faced challenges, from sore legs to loneliness, from rain to monotony, and I couldn’t tackle these challenges effectively if I was in a negative space. If I found myself in a funk, I’d stop and find my centre. I didn’t have to become unbearably positive or find my “higher self”, I just had to find balance. Because the challenges we face daily are best met with our best selves.
No Slump Lasts Forever
If it happened that I found myself in a slump I’d remind myself that no slump lasts forever. Rainy days clear, wet things dry, pain subsides, hills eventually flatten out. It’s hard in the heat of a tough situation to remember that it doesn’t last, but reminding ourselves there’s an end helps us get through the slumps.
There is More than One Way to Get Somewhere
I can’t tell you the amount of times I got lost. During the early days of the hike this would incite a mild panic. Eventually, I learned that just because I deviated from the map didn’t mean there weren’t other ways to make it to the next point in the hike. We are resourceful, and if we stay level-headed, we can make a way. The maps, guidebooks and ten-point plans we follow to get to the places we want in life are not the only ways to get there. If things don’t go to plan, rather than cry failure, we can simply adapt the plan and try new ways.
Adventure is for Everyone
I am in love with hiking. And not because I got fit and started sweating glitter, because that didn’t happen. That all doesn’t matter because the hike doesn’t care what size you are or where you’re from or if your gear is cool. Day-in and day-out the same sun rises and falls on everyone. Everyone feels the brunt of the storm, the burn of the climb and the bite of the frost. Everyone out there experiences the loneliness of the walk, is energised by the beauty of a sunrise and is overwhelmed by the feeling of accomplishment. Out there, the playing field is even. The adventure is for everyone. All that is required is that you have the courage to show up.