DISCLAIMER – If you are thinking of doing a long trek or backpacking in the near future, I would like to warn you, for this post will be completely honest about the difficulties and pains of trekking in addition to the benefits.
After leaving the USA, we touched down in Edinburgh, Scotland, as the beginning of our second trip. Scotland is a breathtakingly beautiful country, with its old winding streets, quaint little villages, and incredible landscapes. One of the many ways to see Scotland’s natural wonders is trekking. Many people will tell you that the benefits of trekking include the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of oneness with nature as you walk, but I am here to tell you that those feelings are only half of the story.
Those feelings only come at the end of the day, when you can take off your shoes and socks and forget about the aches and pains of the day. The feelings while you are on the trail are very, very different. While you are walking, it is difficult to focus on anything except the pain in your feet, the rocks scraping your ankles, and the muddy puddles soaking your shoes.
Although the amazing vistas when you stop to catch your breath do lighten the mood, the disbelief at how far we still have to walk that day and the desire to just sit down seem to dampen it. Brother-sister bickering becomes a daily occurrence, with conversations among the lines of, “Lucia, quit walking behind to me!” or “Mac! why do you have to breath so loudly!” and many, many more.
While all of those things are true, there are many things that make trekking worth the effort:
- The people you meet on the trail will all have something in common with you, because some how you both managed to convince yourselves that walking 100 miles was a good idea.
- The feelings at the end of the day are truly the best in the world. There is something about the first moment you see camp or how well you sleep at the end of a long day that make the pain and hopelessness experienced during the day worth it.
- Food always tastes better on the trail. That slightly soggy sandwich thats been sitting in your steamy backpack all morning tastes like pure heaven on earth. Frozen meatballs, powdered gravy and instant mashed potatoes have never tasted so good.
- Starting trekking when we were young has made it part of Mac’s and my childhood, it is a connection to our parents and I have no doubt it will be something we continue to do together for the rest of our lives
- Walking is an endurance activity, and not only does it give you killer leg muscles, but also an ability to deal with whatever else might face you. I have used the endurance (and leg muscles) given to me by walking for getting to the top of a rock face or swimming across a lake as well as challenging myself mentally to go further and try harder.
Trekking isn’t always easy, but in the end, somehow, impossibly, its worth it. The food, the people, the memories, and the lessons learned all make it one of the foundational memories of my childhood.