Have you ever done something that felt like torture while you were doing it, but soon after it turned out to be a cauldron enriched with learned lessons? Maybe you’ve put yourself through the torture, but just haven’t gotten to the enriching part yet.
A few months back my body engaged in one of the most difficult challenges it’s ever attempted: trekking to the peak of one of South America's tallest mountains, the Salkantay Mountain. Prior to beginning my hike, I had ashamedly overestimated my physical capabilities and mental awareness. People (much more knowledgeable than I) would ask me how long I had been prepping for, “Not at all, but I’m alright, I’m pretty physically active,” I would say assertively.
Little did I know how underprepared I was for my four-day venture through the mountain. Although there were moments that I thought I wouldn’t make it, and moments that I literally cursed myself in utter misery, I can now look back and say it was for my growth.
Below is a list of 3 things that I learned from doing things wrong on my hike—it took a few months, but thankfully, I can carry these lessons through to every day living.
- Go To Bed Prepared and Start Your Day Right
This may seem like a no-brainer, right? Right. Except, Day one’s 12-hour hike began on three hours of sleep and ONE measly Cliff Bar. Upon reaching the beginning point of the trek, I realized I hadn’t brought money for breakfast, enough water, or had planned the night before on getting an adequate amount of sleep. As I look back on my bad decisions, I realize that too often (in the real world) I go to bed unprepared for the following morning (whatever the next day might entail), which consequently leads me to begin my day on the wrong foot. Thanks to my Salkantay failures, I now like to think to myself right before bed each night: am I ready for tomorrow? Is there anything I can do NOW that will prepare me for a productive day? And once the morning comes I start it off right!—by feeding myself spiritually as well as feeding myself physically. Always make sure your mornings start off on the right foot!
- Don’t Ignore Wise Advice
Another no-brainer. Except too often we fail to take advice from people who have been in our shoes way before we decided to even purchase them. I’m a big-time travel-blog junkie. Before heading to a new place, I over-dose on information from bloggers who have already embarked on the same adventure I plan to do. Before heading over to Cusco, Peru, I read a ton of previous trekkers’ advice, which all shared the same important tip: Give yourself three days in Cusco before beginning your hike, in order to acclimate yourself to the altitude. I should’ve listened extra closely, considering I am from Miami, where I am accustomed to sea-level heights. Well, thanks to my stubbornness (only spending a whopping 12 hours in Cusco before embarking on the trek), my first day hiking was spent in misery—feeling like every 10 deep breaths I took was equivalent to one regular breath. My hike took four hours longer than everyone else’s because I had to stop every 30 seconds to sit and breathe. Needless to say, it was quite scary, and the entire time I was wishing I would’ve listened to wise counsel. From now on, I make sure to take note when people with previous experience share their advice.
- Humble Yourself and Take Help When You Need It
Sometimes we like the feeling of doing things on our own merit. Prior to my hike, “thanks, I got it,” was my usual response when asked if I needed help. Never have I needed help more than my second morning before the hike. As we got our things together, my tour guide nonchalantly admitted that the second day is twice as hard as the first day. I quietly approached him and reluctantly confessed that I really didn’t think I could make it to the top if it was “twice as hard” as yesterday’s hike. “Do you need help?” he asked. After a long pause I begrudgingly and humbly confessed, “Yes, yes I do.” To my excitement there was an option available to rent a donkey that would take you to the summit. Ah, what a relief that was! Not only did I make it to the top (with help), but I enjoyed one of the most incredible moments on my trip—scaling the side of a mountain, through fog and streams of water, on a Peruvian donkey. Without my confession of needing help, I wouldn’t have cried tears of joy—I most likely would’ve sobbed tears of regret.