Alright, let me toot my own horn here for a minute. Just bear with me. I’ve been a runner since I was ten. Ten kilometers in 35 minutes? Cakewalk. I’ve practiced hot power yoga for four years. Standing on my head? Another cakewalk. In addition to all this, I’m somewhat of a swimmer. Mile-long swims? Muffinwalk (mix it up, even cakewalks get boring).
So clearly, hiking a Nicaraguan volcano that was “only” 1.4 kilometers high would be a cookiewalk, right? While this was a nice sentiment I kept tucked in my brain, once I started on that hike… let’s just say that my thoughts would’ve required the invention of a whole bunch of new punctuation marks.
Okay, confession time. While I’m generally an active person, climbing to the top of Volcan Maderas was the first time I’ve ever done something that could count as a hike. As is typical for me, I was very well over prepared. Moleskin for blisters, enough granola bars and cookies to feed a small army, 5 liters of water, my ever-necessary adventure hat, and I’m pretty sure that the expectation of a parade honoring my arrival to the summit was tucked away with those nice sentiments of a souffléwalk.
Long story short, there wasn’t anything I could’ve done to prepare myself for that hike, or the associated battle wounds and accidental slip into a crater lake. At one point in the hike, I was asking myself why I had bothered to do it at all. There was no parade at the summit, and a view of Ometepe Island was hidden behind the thick clouds. But despite it all, I stood on that mountaintop feeling proud, like I’d done something substantial just for the story.
Maybe the purpose wasn’t to do it for some undefined award. Maybe the purpose was to just do it for the story. Maybe the purpose was a lesson in slowing down and absorbing the beauty around you. Maybe… just maybe… it was a lesson in taking a breath, taking the next step, and letting all the rest come naturally.