by Kim Beauchemin
So, I have a confession to make. There was a time, not too far in the distant past, when I had a love/hate relationship with hiking. Okay, maybe it was more like a hate/hate relationship, but I tried really hard to like it. All my friends hiked, and I loved spending time with my friends, but ugh hiking was a chore to me.
Now, back then, I was not in the greatest of shape, but I did okay. I also didn’t mind the pack weight so much – I had a good pack that sat on my hips and off my shoulders, so I was fine there. The problem was that I would start on the trail, head down, hell-bent on reaching the summit. That was my goal and I was going to make it, dammit. I would trudge and trudge and trudge and…well, you get the point. I hated every single solitary step it took to get to the summit of a mountain.
As proof, allow me to share an excerpt from a trip report I wrote in July of ’07:
“…the first 30-40 minutes of trudging are just absolute hell. I wonder why I do it and kick myself mentally for setting out on another hellish hike. But as time goes on, I think to myself, ‘it’s gonna be really pretty at the top, can’t wait to get there, the pain’s not THAT bad.’”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved the camaraderie of the group as we ascended the mountain; that’s why I went on the trip. But I didn’t enjoy the walk, the breaks, or the brief pauses to eat/drink – I just wanted to get to the top and get the pain over with. Eventually, we would reach the top, and as I looked upon the splendorous views before me, the agony of climbing would slowly start to slip from my memory – that is, until we had to start our trek back down…
Back in January, when Kara (another Team 2020 member) asked me if I wanted to help out with this charity-thing Randy was starting – involving hiking – I was apprehensive to say the least. I immediately started thinking about ‘the pain’ of hiking that I’d experienced in the past, but I really felt strongly about Randy’s message and wanted to help him get it out there.
Little did I know that Randy would change my perspective on hiking forever.
One of the greatest gifts that Randy has given me, certainly unknowingly until now, is the opportunity to slow down. As he has often stated in his own blog posts, he is a very slow hiker. Some folks might find this a challenge when hiking with Randy. For hike leaders, Randy’s slow hiking pace is something that needs to be ‘accounted for’ – and that is certainly a necessity for a safe and successful hike. Others may take issue with having to carry a pack on their back for double the normal hike time.
For me, I love hiking with Randy – because of his slowness. His reduced hiking pace forces me to stop, turn around, look at what I have just climbed and appreciate the accomplishment of 20 or so feet. I find myself enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, enjoying the views on the way up, and relishing in the journey itself – no matter what part of the journey I am on. It is no longer just about the summit. What was once an adversarial attitude toward hiking has transformed into a strong, passionate appreciation for the walk.
Thank you for that, Randy. From the bottom of my heart.