Studying abroad is usually an excuse to get away from your parents, live life and party, right? Wrong! My first friday night in Barcelona consisted of me and my bed at 10:30pm. This was because I decided to participate in an optional hike in Val de Nuria that required me up to be at 6am on a saturday morning. I had no clue what I signed up for because prior to that I had zero hiking experience. I packed my bag with what I thought were the essentials: assorted nuts, granola bars, frozen cherries, water, socks, my camera and a bocadillo de pernil (cured ham sandwich).
As we got closer to Val de Nuria, all you see are the Pyrenees mountains covered in snow and to be honest, I got intimidated. My mood in Winter vs. Summer is like poop vs. go-getter. In the winter, I just want to be in bed, drinking hot chocolate. Summer weather, on the other hand, gives me motivation to be more physically active.
As we made our way up the mountain, my calves were burning! What got my mind off my aching body was all the beauty around me. John also pointed out a stream with fresh water, and like savages the whole group rushed to drink some. It was the best water I have ever tasted, and it gave me the energy to keep on trekking.
There was a point where one of my group mates – Jorge – and I were were so far ahead from the group that we didn’t notice we were climbing the wrong mountain. I remember hearing Francisco scream “you’re going the wrong way!” Jorge and I looked at each other with the same face of defeat. We took some time to pray and get our minds ready to keep on
trekking. After sharing that spiritual moment with Jorge, we continued our hike with a deeper trust in each other than ever before. Reaching the top after everything I’ve been through was so surreal. I was at the border of France and Spain! My body and mind did that! I felt so at peace and so accomplished.
After soaking it all in, I soon realized that that we had to get back down. I jokingly asked John if we can slide down the
mountain and he replied back “actually…yes!” He then went on to explain the art of glissading down a mountain. With no hesitation, I strapped up my backpack and used it as a sled to slide down the mountain. It was by far the most epic thing I have ever done in my life (and I’ve gone skydiving before).
After putting my body through so much I thought it was only right to take a break and pull out my favorite Spanish sandwich. It hit the spot! All that hiking made me work up an appetite.
All in all, hiking up the pyrenees mountains was an incredible experience to say the least. I was able to connect with myself physically, spiritually and mentally. Overcoming mental obstacles is something I preach a lot, but is difficult to put in practice. Now, when I want to relate to future clients and peers, I can come back to this experience and hopefully inspire others to never give up.