There is something beautifully compelling about being in nature. Most of you know me as Style Miss Molly — a fashionista who loves all things girly and loves to dress up. However, today I’m sharing with you a part of me I never have before, and a part of me I’ve only recently come to realize just how passionate about it I am. The truth is, I have never felt more myself than when I hike. My soul longs for it, my mind thrives off of it, my body appreciates it. You could say that I’m a fashionista turned mountaineer, but there’s no reason why I can’t be both. I’m a true adventurer, eager to explore the breathtaking views in this world. I discovered myself while hiking the beautiful mountains of the Pacific Northwest. It continues to strengthen my body and my mind and teaches me endless amounts of valuable life skills every time I go out. Read more for seven life lessons the mountains have taught me.
In a way, I’ve always been adventurous. I grew up hiking with my dad and always had a knack to explore the unknown. I both skied and snowboarded growing up and that was exciting to me, perhaps for different reasons. I would take my magnifying glass and sit on the ski lift investigating all the perfect snowflakes we could find. I loved following my dad down unexplored paths and making my own trails (when it was safe of course). Little did I know, these little experiences that were cultivated as a child were all a part of my true passion.
7 Things the mountains have taught me:
1. Leave your problems at home.
The mountains are the one place I can leave all the trials of this world behind me and simply be 100% myself. In nature, I am able to escape the troubles of the world and be free from the stress that has a tendency to build up from the daily grind. Probably the biggest thing that attracts me to hiking is that it’s just me and mountain. I am able to be fully present on the task at hand and absorb the beauty around me. I’m completely at peace without even trying.
Hiking for me is not a point A to point B destination. It’s about the little moments along the way. From a uniquely shaped tree, the curvature of the snow, the animal tracks that meander off somewhere unknown, to the mountains in the distance that take your breath away — I’ve learned to appreciate it all. There are always new experiences to explore and one of my favorite aspects of hiking is enjoying and appreciating every moment along the way. As we go through life we should always remember to savor the little moments and look forward to the joys they can bring us whether big or small.
3. Optimism is essential.
The mountains bring many challenges along the way. However, dwelling on the negatives of your body temperatures acclimating, my lungs trying to catch up to higher altitudes, or your muscles tightening from the weight of a backpack will only defeat you further. Hiking is largely a mind-over-matter situation. I have to keep telling myself something amazing is just around the corner and that it’s going to be worth it. It always is and keeping my mind positive is half the battle!
4. Hard work pays off.
I won’t say that hiking is easy. In fact, some of the most rewarding hikes that I’ve been on have been the most challenging. I love the puzzles that you have to solve along the way. Whether it’s a new path you have to find because of trail conditions or overcoming a difficult situation due to weather conditions, it always pays off. As hard as it is, it leads me back wanting more. I’m genuinely satisfied that I end up going no matter how I felt just hours before. I found the more difficult the experience the more rewarding the joy.When I hike I am emotionally, mentally, and physically stronger.
When I think about the things in life that make me the happiest — it’s always people, experiences, and qualities gained from these experiences, not things. When I’m up in the mountains, all I can see is this incredible beauty that surrounds us. Often I ponder, “I can’t believe this is really free!” Not far from home, I am blessed with an exciting opportunity to seek it out, explore it, and admire it for all that is. As I feel alive from these breath-taking views and recharged from nature, I am reminded that there is always something beautiful to keep us going forward — and chances are, it’s free.
6. Appreciate the quietness.
In the city, it’s loud and noisy and I’m always running from point A to point B trying to get the next thing done on my list. When I’m in the mountains everything changes. One of my favorite things to do is close my eyes and listen. Sometimes I’ll hear animals or a stream trickling by. Other times I hear and feel the wind rush across my face and am instantly invigorated. In those moments I feel more connected with life and appreciate nature around me. It’s beautiful, it’s breathtaking, and most of all it’s very meditative.
7. Giving up is not an option.
Hiking has taught me to push through even when I think I can’t. It gets hard at times and there are many times where I question for a moment if I’m actually enjoying this. But I have learned to take it one step at a time and keep going no matter what. It’s incredible mental practice to coach yourself. Often I feel like The Little Engine That Could saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” Personally, I like to turn that phrase into “I know I can.” It’s very empowering to know that even when it’s tough you can conquer the mountain with perseverance. Ultimately, it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and as I like to say, “Keep smiling!”