The Canadian Rockies are truly a dream come true for outdoor enthusiasts. There are endless options for climbing, kayaking, biking, canoeing, trail running, paddle boarding, and of course, hiking. With hundreds of trails to suit all experience levels, from leisurely boardwalk strolls to challenging mountain summits and scrambles. No matter what hike you choose, your efforts will be rewarded with unbelievable views – including icy blue mirror-like glacial lakes, towering peaks dusted with snow, dense green pine forests, surreal rock formations, and roaring waterfalls.
Hiking is beneficial beyond belief. Whether you do it to get some exercise, for the view from the summit, to spend quality time with friends, to take a rad photo for Instagram or to escape into the serenity of nature, there are always life lessons to be gained from the experience.
We lace our boots up, double check that we brought bear spray, put on our backpacks, and look forward to the adventure. We may all hit the trails for different reasons, but we can still share the lessons learned along the way. Here are 10 of those life lessons that I’ve picked up from hiking in the Canadian Rockies.
Of course you want to be prepared for the hike and the weather that you’re expecting, but it’s also key to be prepared for ANYTHING! You can experience all four season in one day in the Rockies, spend 8 hours on a mountain when you were anticipating 3 hours, completely lose the trail you were following, or come across wildlife that you were not expecting to see. Seriously – I’ve gotten frost bite, a sunburn and a tick all on the same day! Always bring lots of clothing layers, bear spray, water and snacks, and a map or a GPS. The lesson here is simple, be prepared for anything and always expect the unexpected. This translates directly to our day to day life as we learn to be prepared for anything and not always hold expectations.
Trust your Instincts
From which trail you follow, to where to put your foot next, hiking teaches you to trust your instincts and be confident in your choices. When you’re inches away from slipping, it’s crucial that you trust yourself enough to know you will not fall. Similarly, the life decisions you make should be based on some instinct. You know the right move to make, just believe in it.
Keep moving forward
Life is, in a lot of different ways, like a long and challenging trail. As we trek along this journey we call life, we far too often become overwhelmed by challenges, disappointment or rejection. We can be quick to give up on our dreams, but another lesson we can take from hiking is that as long as you’re putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving, you are getting somewhere.
Step by step anything can be accomplished
There have been times on some of our longer hikes where I’d look at the map, expecting to see that we were close to the end, only to find out we had a long way left to go. Before, I used to basically fall apart when faced with obstacles and I’d waste my energy on expressing my frustration. Now, I’ve learned to take the frustration and use it as power to keep going. Once you take all of the expectations and idealistic attachments out of the picture, it’s really as simple as one foot after the other.
A positive attitude can do wonders
Sometimes, in tough situations along the trail, I say to myself “why the hell are you doing this?” Let’s face it, hiking can be quite a frustrating and exhausting experience, both physically and mentally. But complaining about it definitely doesn’t make it any easier for us or our friends. It’s amazing what kind of impact a positive attitude can have. Choosing to be positive about difficult situations helps us get through them, both on and off the mountain.
The world is such a beautiful place, and it needs to be protected
When hiking it’s virtually impossible to ignore how beautiful our planet is. I truly believe that the more we see of our planet, the more important it becomes for us to protect it – and the summit of a mountain can give you a pretty stellar perspective of our planet. But rather than just talking about how we want to protect our planet, it’s time for us to DO something! You can pick up garbage you see while you’re hiking, be mindful of your use of single-use plastics, and of course, choose to contribute to causes and brands like Ten Tree. Ten tree are planted for EVERY purchase made – what an easy way to step up and protect our planet while also becoming a part of a bigger community and movement. What’s stopping you?
In today’s fast-paced world, it seems like everyone is in a rush to reach the next best thing. But why are we all rushing through this? Isn’t life meant to be cherished and experienced, and not just lived? Hiking teaches us to slow down, soak in the scenery that’s all around us, and listen to nature. Like life, it’s an incredible journey that should be savoured. Hiking allows us to truly reflect on what it means to slow down, and we can truly start appreciating every moment rather than worrying about what’s coming next, or what doesn’t even exist yet.
Nature will give you clarity
When the business of the city and our regular life seems too loud and the thoughts in your mind won’t stay silent, nature can offer a new perspective. Sometimes the best way to find yourself is actually to get lost. The perfect way to free those anxious thoughts is to completely immerse yourself in nature. Let the sounds of the leaves calm your mind, give yourself time to truly think and when you get to the top, soak it all in.
Through hiking we actually have the ability and opportunity to completely disconnect from the world – with no TV, no cell service or internet access, we can be much more connected with nature and ourselves. Walking leads to inner contemplation—and we get to do a lot of soul-searching, and if we’re lucky we can bring that into our regular life too.
Life is Full of Ups and Downs
We all know that moment when you feel that you’ve reached the peak and you’re about to celebrate, but then you realize that you’re on a false summit and you need to go down and then back up again to get to the true summit. You might even realize that you took a wrong turn and need to go down again to get back on track. Sometimes, life can get difficult and there is never a straight or easy road to success. Learning to adjust based on these ups and downs is an incredibly valuable lesson.
Everyone has their own goals – and that’s okay
There may be people that want to climb all the way to the summit and others that want to go for a walk on one of the flat trails to a lake. Neither of these people is better than the other, and neither has the right to judge the other! You may encounter people with small goals that will judge you for your “unrealistic” goals. Also, you might catch yourself looking down on people for their “mediocre” goals. Don’t worry about others. Just focus on your own goals and crush them at your own pace!
It’s Always Worth it in the End
The harder you try and the more effort you pour in, the greater the reward will be. Continue pushing yourself and your hiking buddies to reach the summit, and when you finally do, savour the majestic views that only a few people get to see. The effort you put in WILL be rewarded. Just remember, the view at the end is beautiful, but in reality so is the entire journey.