I’m a big advocate of the power of being confident in the wilderness and what it can do for a person’s self esteem. The challenges faced in the backcountry are some of the most soul baring, physically and mentally excruciating experiences a person can be faced with. When you’re surrounded for miles by wilderness and the only resources you have are what’s in your pack and your intuitive survival skills, it’s amazing how deep a person can dig down to muster the strength to continue. Coming out on the other side, a person is transformed into a stronger person with self confidence that’s capable of taking on any challenge thrown their way.
That’s why I believe everyone should hike. Men, women, young and old, hiking can be as much of a personal journey as it is a family activity. It brings people closer, especially when you only have each other to rely on for humour, companionship and survival. A great example of this was an experience I had when backpacking with a large group of girls. We were two days (of six) into our backpacking trip, deep in Yaha Tinda (near Banff National Park, Alberta) and for this particular trip we were only following a topography map, following animal trails to hidden lakes and other gems. One of the girls in our group twisted her ankle pretty bad, enough to suffice the use of the emergency satellite phone to arrange an evacuation. After many failed attempts, as a group we decided we would turn around, anticipating the return trip to take five days (one more then originally planned for). We split up the contents of her pack and rotated between carrying the injured girl. Slowly but surely we made it back to civilization, even through a couple summer alpine snowstorms! This experience changed us all, it showed us that we were capable of more then we had ever imagined, making us stronger mentally and physically.
I enjoy hiking and backpacking because its not only a great form of physical exercise but also it works you mentally. There’s always that little voice inside your head, telling you you’re tired, that you should stop here, that you’re scared. But over time you learn to block out that voice with a stronger voice. One that tells you you are tired, but you are strong enough to keep going, that you don’t want to stop now because the top is only a bit further and that you will only overcome your fear by facing it!
So this summer, I challenge you to face that voice inside your head! Challenge yourself, push outside of your comfort zone and you’ll be surprised with what you learn about yourself.