The first memory I have of my dad is going hiking together. I must’ve been 3 years old, I was tired, and asked my dad if he could carry me around. “You’re old enough to walk by yourself”. He said no more, and I’ve walked ever since.
Walking, whether hiking on the mountains or going to the store in the city, has always been an integral part of my life. Some hikes have become a routine, others I know too well, but there are a few that are unique. No matter how many times I walk them, they never cease to amaze me. It doesn’t matter how much time it goes between each time I get to walk them, because every time I take a new step, I’m closer to getting back. What matters is that I’ve found that place, where I feel like there’s no space or time, where I can just walk.
The first time I went to Torres del Paine, I was told it was a beautiful but difficult 10 day hike. Carrying around a 20 kilo backpack, walking all day, and having no accommodations but your tent does sound tough. I hadn’t stopped thinking about how the trip would be, when I found myself walking up the hardest part of the trip. It was the middle of the summer, and it was snowing. It had rained the day before, and the path was nothing but a big puddle of mud. After a few hours going up hill, I was completely wet. And then, in the blink of an eye, I was on the top. As I first laid my eyes on the infinitude of ice beneath me, it stopped snowing, it stopped raining, and the clouds opened, the sun shining over the ice.
I’ve learned a great deal from my dad, but the most important lesson came from his passion to go hiking: You’re always ALWAYS walking. Sometimes it feels like a routine, sometimes it feels like your strength is leaving you, sometimes it’s snowing in summer, you’re freezing, and covered in mud. But you have to keep walking, because just in the blink of an eye, everything turns on you favor, the sun shines just as you look at the most beautiful view you’ve ever seen, and you feel like there’s no other place you’d want to be. You feel grateful, not only for being there, but for the journey that brought you there.
And then you’ll know, you’ve found the best hike of your life.