The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Lao Tzu

While this journey was not a thousand miles, it was without a doubt the most physically challenging activity I have ever done in my life and this comes only a week after hiking the Costa Brava. I also made  emotional connections to this excursion after I had time to reflect.

I am not sure where the path may lead me, but the only way to find out is by taking the first steps. At Montserrat mountain.

Montserrat mountain is a wonder to see standing 1,236m high (4,055ft).  Why is it called Montserrat? The literal meaning is “serrated mountain” because of the unique, jagged peaks it displays.  Many people visit the mountain to see the monastery that houses the Black Madonna and to witness the boy’s choir singing.  It is a place where nature, history, and religion come together and create a beautiful site to see and experience.

Montserrat mountain from the bottom. I had no idea of the journey that was to come.

The monastery on Montserrat mountain. 720m high and home to the Black Madonna.

Getting to the monastery of Montserrat was our hiking goal.  It is 720m (2,362ft) above sea level and that day the temperature almost reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  I did not know the height and temperature before this hike. I just knew that I had conquered the Costa Brava a week before and I was confident about it.  Finally I was optimistic about being able to take on an excursion here! That optimism did not last long at all…30 shadeless, rock climbing minutes later and I was reaching to the heavens for breath.  I laugh when I think back to how our tour guide, Laila, said “only 45 minutes until we get to the monastery.”  45 minutes later I was still slowly ascending to heaven with no monastery in sight!

With the help and support of some of my group members and my professor I made it to the monastery! I am still surprised that I did it with my asthma. I had to take multiple breaks to catch my breath and regain my composure. I do not like being the reason people have to wait, but I went at the pace I could handle and with help I got to the top alive. One year ago I would not have been able to do this. I kept looking out to the landscape and I could not fully take it in. The rewarding view and the fact that I had climbed up that far. In a way, it shows the journey I am on. Just like my struggle with the hike, I have struggled to get to my goals. Dealing with depression, anxiety, and other health problems for years has not been easy whatsoever. Starting last year, I really took initiative to improve my physical and mental wellbeing. I have come a long way physically and mentally and this hike shows it.

A selfie of me after climbing Montserrat. The monastery is in the background. A feat I will never forget.

When I got to the monastery, I still went further to St. Michael’s Cross despite the struggle I had just endured. Life does not end when you reach a goal, so I always try to push myself further. My body did not want to go to the cross but my mind did, so I pushed through it and I am so glad I did. The entire mountain of Monserrat can represent my life to come. Just like how I only hiked a tiny portion of the whole mountain to get to the monastery, I have struggled and conquered many feats to get to this point in my life and there is so much more to be taken on.

Inside the red circle is St. Micheal’s Cross. I took this photo from the monastery on Montserrat.

St. Michael’s Cross on Montserrat. I did not have to hike to this, but I wanted to further challenge myself.