Today I have an article for you that is a little different from what I usually write. No advice or travelogue. This time, in the form of testimony, I will explain to you why I decided to start the hikeand above all, why and how I continued (yes, because I would have had a thousand reasons to stop 😀! ).
The story could be very simple.
I could have been born in a mountain region, with a pair of sticks and a backpack for my first birthday. In this world, hiking would have been part of my DNA in the same way as marmots and ibexes and I would not write a blog to tell you about my life.
But no, it’s a bit more complicated.
Already, I was born in Vendée. As much to tell you that the mountains around here, you have to look for them. On summer weekends I was more the type to snort cheerfully in the fiery waves of the Atlantic Ocean than to sweat for pleasure on country roads. I do have a few memories of rare holidays in the Pyrenees or the Alps, but all the hiking attempts initiated by my parents have ended in bitter failure. And I have to admit that it didn’t really help me get a taste for hiking when I was younger.
However, I have always loved sports. But walking to sweat, what a funny idea! No, really, I didn’t see the point. Short, I had a deep dislike for any slow activity, requiring the use of my legs. Perhaps the fact that in the countryside all trips are made by car has something to do with it… I’ll let you dig into the subject if you feel like it.
After my studies I finally moved to the Jura mountains. As much as I enjoyed enjoying snow and skiing in winter, hiking in summer was inconceivable. With always the same answer to whoever tried to make me change my mind: but whyyyyyy? Why would I fuck myself for several hours on a road when I can be quietly on my sofa watching the latest fashionable series? And if I need to do sports, I go swimming in the pool for 1 hour and that’s fine, no need to waste several hours for that.
You see the kind.
Start the hike: photography
You notice that until then, the idea of enjoying the landscapes was totally non-existent in my brain. Normal, I had not yet put my nose (or rather my eye) into photography. And I hadn’t started traveling yet.
Because yes, everything comes from there. It was my desire to bring back beautiful photos from my travels that motivated me to start hiking., mainly during my stays abroad at first. I was 25 anyway.
For several years, I thus limited myself to hikes lasting a few hours and with a reasonable elevation gain, rarely exceeding 500m, as during my trips to the USA or in Sardinia to recite nobody else but them. The only interest of these first hikes really came down to being able to take pictures.
I admit that at that time, if I had been able to access these points of view in another way, I probably would not have said no. (#teamfeignassequiassume)
Continue the hike: sporting effort
But despite everything, without realizing it, maybe because Ihe difficulty of the first times diminished at the same time as I gained in endurance, I began to increasingly appreciate hiking for its sporty side. I found it extremely gratifying to reach a magnificent viewpoint after an effort. Operating on the same psychological principle as the reward, it’s the kind of motivation that makes you want to start over.
And then, succeeding in climbing higher, in doing more kilometres… it becomes addictive. I then took to dream of adventure travel, more sporty which would give pride of place to hiking, especially in mountainous areas. But it must be said that with my Breton co-hiker, we knew nothing about the mountains. And I couldn’t see myself leaving for a hike of several hours with a greater difference in altitude, without knowing my limits and without knowing if I was able to walk that much. We read a lot of stories of hikers who overestimate themselves and I absolutely did not want to be one of those people who find themselves stuck somewhere, without a network and abroad… It was my worst fear at the time!
So, to reassure ourselves but also to learn some basic principles and discover the bivouac, we decided to make our first sports trip with an agency. Direction the south of Iceland for 15 days of roaming trek !
This trip was a first revelation! At 27 I discovered that I didn’t have to be ashamed of my physical condition and that I was able to hike much longer than I would have imagined. Not to mention the bivouac and the minimalist aspect of this kind of trip which combined my desire for adventure and simplicity.
On the strength of this first experience, we decided to try again with a trip of another style, this time to Spitsbergen. A 6-day stay in autonomy and roaming where we would alternate kayaking and hiking. This second trip of this kind only reinforced my first impression and the conviction that my ideal travel was at your fingertips.
The chance of life doing things well, a few months later we left for a 3 month trip to Oceania. For 3 months our days consisted of: hiking in the parks, sleeping in bivouacs, shopping and riding.
While in Australia, even the most demanding hikes seemed too easy for us, the reliefs of New Zealand allowed us to go beyond our limits. What seemed insurmountable 6 months earlier had almost become my daily life during this stay. For the first time I made a hike with more than 1600m of elevation!
This famous hike leading to Mount Taranaki was something of a click. If I was capable of that, how far was I able to go? From there, I only had one goal in mind: challenge myself to my limits.
Start the trek: the taste of the challenge
That’s how, at the dawn of my 30s, I didn’t dream of a pretty baby or a pretty car, but I dreamed of achieving a sporting challenge. The kind of unlikely thing you only do once in your life that you know you’ll be proud of for the rest of your life. This challenge, I knew it, it had been slumbering deep inside me for a while. Hiking is fun, but this time I wanted to know what I had in mind for the long term, in autonomy. A trek was perfect for that. And for the first I wanted to bet on something strong, symbolic and demanding. the GR20the famous crossing of Corsica on foot, renowned for its difficulty.
I will not go into the details of this trek or its preparation, I have already written enough articles on the subject. I would just tell you that after our trip to Iceland, this trek was my second revelation. I was at the pinnacle of kiffitude, a peak well known to trekkers doped with adrenaline!
This GR20 clearly marked the beginning of a new era in my way of looking at travel. I who swore only by road trips and the freedom it brought me, I had to review my copy. Indeed, while I would never have thought I would say that a few years earlier, I realized that the trek brought me just as much, even more than the road-trip.
Continue the trek: the taste of freedom
That’s how, for 4 years, I’ve been alternating between trips abroad and long-distance treks, mainly in France and Switzerland. Even if something tells me that the next one may be a little further…
With the trek and the bivouac I found what I felt was dawning a few years ago. This feeling of ultimate freedom, much more intense and much deeper than that experienced during a road trip.
On a trek I don’t just feel free. Above all, I feel alive. Connected to nature and disconnected from the internet, I am whole and complete. Me, tiny little link of the infinitely big, on the trails I am no longer a human being who walks alongside nature. I am a human who is an integral part of this nature. In trek my sensitivity is increased tenfold, my vulnerability too. And yet, paradoxically, I am inhabited by an overflowing energy, impossible to find the rest of the year warm behind my PC.
All those who play sports regularly know it and it is no longer to be demonstrated, sports activity works miracles on our mind. This is all the more true with the trek. One of the major advantages of this sport is that after a while, when you walk long enough to have exhausted your stock of ruminating thoughts, you think of NOTHING. Goodbye mental load!
Yes, I’m not going to lie to you, when you start, the preparation upstream is stressful. Just as much as the first days of walking where you have to get used to considering the nature around you as a friend more than an enemy (even the fox that roams around the tent at night, yes, yes). But habits come quickly. You quickly become an expert in the clothes to take, the equipment to provide, the safety rules to follow.
And from that moment, everything becomes so simple and so easy! We don’t ask ourselves any more questions, we prepare the bag, we leave our problems at home, and we enjoy!
I understand that this puts some people off, but what a pleasure not to worry about cooking, washing, choosing your clothes in the morning… I eat my freeze-dried products chosen in advance, I wash myself with clean water and I take my clothes back on from one day to the next.
So yes, it’s not glamorous. I sweat, I stink and my hair is not clean. But the trek is also a great life lesson. It’s learning to detach yourself from the gaze of the other, true freedom! And when I’m walking, to be honest, I don’t really care what other people think.
On the contrary, I like the image that I send back in those moments. Namely a sporty woman, a little adventurous, who dares to step out of her comfort zone, free in her body and in her head, comfortable in her sneakers and quite simply happy. (maybe you don’t see me like that, but let me think what I want of myself 🙂 )
Believe me, the trek is a great self-confidence booster!
We often find ourselves in situations that we would have imagined insurmountable in normal times. But there, when you have no choice, you take your courage in both hands and you do what it takes to face your fears. Typically, like many girls (we’re not going to hide), I was “afraid” of little beasts. I can tell you that now it’s not sleeping with a spider that’s going to bother me (well, not with a tarantula either, but you get the idea).
From now on, I can’t imagine a single trip without hiking or trekking. And I hope my legs will carry me as long as possible on the trails of the world!
In conclusion, whatever the reasons for which you read this article, I hope it has brought you answers. And more than anything, I hope you have understood that there is no age to start hiking. More than a sports activity, it is in my opinion the best therapy to take stock of your life. The proof by a girl who really didn’t like to walk and who regrets not having started sooner 🙂
Anyway, one day I decided to start hiking, and since then I haven’t stopped!
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