One of the best parts of my summer has been the amount of time I’ve spent outdoors. As the cooler weather sets in, I begin to bundle up and reflect on how many amazing adventures I was fortunate to have. This summer was full of natural disaster, constant states of emergency, loss, fear, and destruction. Many of my favourite places have been fighting to save their lands from wildfire and I know how thankful I should be that so far, my family and home have been safe. My many hours on the trails this summer not only made me more appreciative of the trails themselves, but of the people who I’ve stumbled upon on the trails. I wrote this post in my head as I was barreling down Ha Ling last weekend and thinking about the qualities that passionate hikers and adventurers seem to share. They are conveniently the three qualities I am constantly working to improve in myself. Characteristics that I strive towards, and ones that I recognize in others – respect, humility, and positivity.
I have noticed that people who spend their lives outdoors and who thrive on fresh air and freedom seem to be the same people who show so much respect for the land, the parks, and the places they love. It’s been shown through research that children who spend time outdoors are more likely to grown up with a mind for conservation and an appreciation of nature. It makes sense. I love seeing people with a mind for where they are, truly appreciating the space they are in. They are so in tune with the land and have so much respect for the land as they are the ones to know that nature doesn’t need humans – it’s a pretty spectacular ecosystem without human impact in fact – but humans need nature. Whether we like it or not, we are better people when we are connected to the land. If it’s picking up trash on the trail, politely educating hikers on local plants or trail etiquette, or simply not bringing your loud speakers to the hiking trails and enjoying the sounds of the environment, I love when people show respect for the outdoors. It typically translates to respect for others and respect for themselves.
Ah, the true balance of being confident in who you are and seeking to learn more and understand your place in this world. Humility is an art and by no means have I perfected it. I casually mentioned my ‘humble brags’ while completing the Canmore Triple Crown, because sometimes I struggle to be equally happy and proud of what I’ve done and also realize that I’m not the best-fastest-strongest-coolest person and shouldn’t let my ego take over. I think humility is something you notice more when it’s absent. You notice that person who WON’T STOP talking about their backcountry hike last summer or boasts about their mile splits after every single run. You notice when someone asks you a question, only because they really want to give you their answer. I’ve met some wonderful people on the trails this summer and most of them are the most humble people. They don’t pretend to be the best at anything, they know they aren’t the fastest or most extreme, they are happy with their accomplishments because it feeds their soul and not their ego. Whether I’ve met them at the summit of a mountain, in a campground, on the trail, or in run club, it’s always a pleasure to meet people who are practicing the art of humility.
I imagine positivity as a highway, where you have a yellow line in the middle that is your utmost positive being. There are white lines on either side and you are really okay to not be at your utmost ridiculously positive self as long as you’re staying within the white lines of the highway. Being a positive realist let’s say. If I’m tired, or frustrated, or stressed, and begin to think and speak a bit more negatively, it’s as if I’ve crossed the white lines and you hear that obnoxious sound as you cross the rumble strips. It’s a caution to return to the middle of the road. I generally think of myself as a positive person and often recognize that quality in others. Either when I’m around someone truly negative who makes me appreciate positivity, or if I’m in the presence of someone who is so positive you want to stay around them so it will influence your own attitudes. I have found people on the trails this summer, despite conditions around our province and our neighbours’ to be less than ideal this year, to be some of the happiest, most positive people. I love it. Instead of being upset that it’s windy, someone will tell you that just means smoke-free skies tomorrow. Instead of a hike being ruined by rain, it was a good sign for the province. Instead of being unhappy at the amount of traffic in the National Parks this summer, it was an optimistic opportunity for people to be further invested in protecting their country’s parks for conservation and preservation. I know it’s not possible to be positive all the time, but it’s a nice default attitude to have.
This past week has been spent recovering from the Canmore Triple Crown. Based on how much energy I had throughout the entire day and how relatively easy it felt to complete the three summits (it was obviously really hard, but not as terrible ‘I want to die’ as I thought it would be) I figured I would need just a couple of days to recover. Little did I know, my legs would TRASHED for at least 4-5 days. My quads were so so so sore for days after the hike and I could barely go down stairs until Wednesday evening.
I felt pretty decent on Sunday, just very sore, but the first half of this week I felt like I had been hit by a train. You know that feeling when you’ve done an insane strength training workout and your muscles feel rock solid because they’re trying so hard to recruit blood volume and fluid to repair the muscle. That was my ENTIRE body. I took a fall when I was coming down EEOR and the impact of that fall wasn’t realized until a couple of days later when my forearms and ribs (where I took some of the brunt of the fall) were very sore and felt slightly strained. I took it easy this week and took time off of running to let my body recover. It’s frustrating to not be able to jump right back into things but it’s been pretty incredible to watch and feel my body healing it’s tired muscles. I’m looking forward to this weekend to get back outside and enjoy slowly easing back into more time on the trails. Hurrah for positivity, right? 😉
What qualities do YOU see out on the trails?
What is one quality or characteristic you’re trying to better in yourself?