On the Purpose of Mountain Climbing

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“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air, and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”

David McCullough, Jr., American teacher during a high school graduation in 2012

Since I have taken interest in nature walks and mountain climbing, posts and events regarding this outdoor activity have become prevalent on my Facebook® page. I share photos of my adventures too. My friends sometimes ask me where I trekked previously or where the next getaway will be. Of course, I have encountered this question a number of times – “why do you climb mountains?” Why would I spend time, and also money, to travel to a seemingly uninhabited place and get myself tired at the end of the day?

Different people do something for different reasons. Take trekking as an example.

Hiking has grown into a popular activity in the country of my birth. Especially for those who have not tried it before, they do it simply for the experience. Doing new things and then succeeding in them brings a powerful sense of fulfillment. Walking for hours on an uphill trail with only momentary breaks does sap energy and cause aching of the legs. But when the summit is reached to find a breath-taking landscape, that energy gauge meter fills up in an instant. The trek is worth it. Still, it depends whether fog does not obscure the view. No matter what happens, first-time hikers get an idea why some people visit the mountains once or even twice a month. Then they decide whether to not go on an excursion soon due to weariness or to do it again and feel enlivened.

At more than one occasion in the past, I replied to a friend that I climbed a mountain to find myself. This reason can be heard often in one form or another. We can be unsure of ourselves. We may have trouble with discerning our personality and setting our goals. The hustle and bustle of urban living, the stress from work, and the influences of our peers cloud our thoughts further. What we might need is to spend even just one day at the mountain with its tranquil ambience, removing those distractions from our mind. Having the company of other people, especially those we do not know personally, can reveal more of ourselves through social interaction. Principles and experiences are shared too, shaping us further as a whole.

Some individuals also join outdoor excursions to make new friends. Nature hikes can be organized involving a group of friends or even complete strangers. We get to know fellow trekkers during the assembly before a hike. Then we chat with them while enduring the challenges of the terrain and the limits of the human body. We feel their pain. There is also empathy in joy after reaching the summit and descending from the mountain safely. Even long after the event, we maintain communication with our newfound friends thanks to the convenience from mobile devices and social media.

Even romantic partners can be sought by climbing mountains. Two people may find hiking as a common interest and develop affinity toward each other during a climb. In other cases, a person in search for a potential life partner may randomly bump into and meet a fellow trekker who sees the good in him or her. With optimism, perhaps they may nurture feelings for one another and end up as a couple.

There are certain people who participate in treks to enrich his or her passion in the arts. Scenery from the base to the summit and back inspire awe that stimulate the senses. It can help us paint a landscape, take the perfect snapshot, compose a poem, or even write a song.

Whatever our reason is for hiking up a mountain, we do it to improve our lives and transform into a better person in the process.

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