10 Life Lessons Learned From Hiking

So you can tell your friends and have them punch you. 3 min read.

Yosemite Half Dome by Christine Phu
Photo by Blisters & Bliss

These came about from my experience climbing Yosemite’s Half Dome back in August of 2013, during the times that I wasn’t thinking about how hot it was or wondering if I would actually make it to the top.

For all the tough journeys in your life, here’s a list of 10 life lessons you’ll learn that make them all worth it.

1. You can’t just give up in the middle. Once you hike halfway to your destination, you suddenly realize you have to make your way back or you’ll be eaten by bears. Don’t get eaten by the bears.

2. One step at a time.You’ve dragged yourself up the John Muir trail and are standing at the foot of the 400ft, 45˚ angled cables. The rock you’re climbing up is slick from the thousands who have already climbed it, and all you’ve got to hold onto is two 1-inch cables. It’s one of the most mentally and physically challenging ways you can spend 30 minutes. The trick is to ignore the magnitude of the cable climb as a whole, and take it one step at a time. And whatever you do, don’t look down. Oops, you just did.

3. There will always be a voice in your head that says “can’t.” Accept that it will always be there, then stuff it into a tiny box that you banish to a corner of your brain. Shut up, stupid voice.You are stuck with your own baggage, and it is up to you how heavy it is. No one else will hold your pack for you on your journey. Let go of the things that weigh you down, because the longer you go, the heavier that pack will feel upon your shoulders. This is a metaphor in case you didn’t realize.

4. Arrogance will come back to haunt you. Whether it’s thinking you’re better than those around you on the same path, or shutting out other valid opinions, your ego will have a direct effect on your success. Be kind and it’ll take you a long way.

5. A positive attitude will see you through (and make your fellow adventurers not hate you). Everyone with you is just as nervous/frustrated/stressed as you are. Make it a little better for everyone with a little optimism.

6. You are only as strong as your weakest link. You won’t make it up that mountain if you don’t work together, and you won’t have a successful product launch if one person messed up their piece of it. Treat the people around you as part of your team. If they fail, you fail. Then everybody gets fired.

7. You’ll be a burden to others if you’re not prepared. Don’t make those around you hate you for being useless. If you’re on the trail without enough water, you put everyone else in danger by drinking theirs. There’s a word for that: deadweight.

8. Every minute spent suffering and leaning into that suffering will build your character immensely. Also, it becomes a fun cliche to chant to your other suffering friends — “come on, you’re building character!” Run when they try to punch you in the face.

9. The view at the end is beautiful, but in reality so is the entire journey. Enjoy every step you take, because the scenery along the way is just as beautiful as the view from the top. And you should always be aware of and learn from the road you took to get there.

As Dr. Seuss said,
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

But don’t blame me if you hate the journey anyway. Cheers!


This article was originally published on Medium and reposted with permission by Catherine Shyu.
A Product Manager at FullContact, formerly at SendGrid and BandPage. Cal alum. Photographer.

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