Parallels Between Hiking and Life: Lessons from the Trail

We often underestimate the relationship between the physical and philosophical aspects of our lives. The task of hiking, seemingly a physical task, is also an echo of life’s broader journey. As an avid hiker preparing for the famous West Coast Trail, I’ve been drawn to reflect on this interconnection. The same lessons I’ve learned from hiking boots, backpacks, and trail maps hold profound wisdom about navigating life’s winding roads.

The ultimate objective for any hiker is to reach the summit or end of the trail. Yet, it’s the journey that is cherished most, even with its ups and downs, scrambles and steep deadly cliffs. Life, too, is a grand expedition, where the destination often becomes a blur against the beauty of the journey. Each moment, each struggle, and each triumph has its significance, shaping our character and worldview.

Every experienced hiker understands the importance of proper preparation: packing the right gear, studying the map, checking the weather, and being physically and mentally fit. The foresight is directly applicable to our lives. To tackle the challenges that life throws our way, we must arm ourselves with the knowledge, understanding, resilience and courage.

Despite meticulous preparation, you might encounter unexpected elements on your hike, sudden downpour, a closed trail, or a stunning view around an unexpected bend. These surprises teach us the art of adaptability and resilience. Life, too, is brimming with unforeseen circumstances, it’s our capacity to adapt, re-route, and to persevere that helps us flourish in life’s unpredictable terrain. 

On a long hike, taking breaks to catch your breath, hydrate, and rejuvenate is vital. These pauses are not signs of weakness, but rather acknowledgment of our humanity and the need for balance. Similarly, in the non-stop rush of life, it’s crucial to find our restful spaces, to rejuvenate, and to maintain balance. This self-care forms the backbone of sustained wellness and success.

While hiking, we often find ourselves switching between periods of solitude and companionship. Both have their unique value. Solitude offers an opportunity for self-reflection and independence, while companionship brings shared experiences, encouragement, and collective strength. Life mirrors this dynamic, emphasizing the need for both introspection and human connection.

Finally, after the challenging climb, we reach the peak and witness the grandeur of the world stretched out below. The feeling is pure ecstasy, a reward for our persistence, strength and determination. Likewise, in life, our dreams and ambitions often require rigorous hard work and resilience. The sweet taste of success after such perseverance is indescribable.

As I prepare for my journey on the West Coast Trail, I’m reminded of these lessons and the beautiful dance between hiking and life. Both are journeys, filled with challenges, joys, sorrows, and triumphs. Both require preparation, commitment, determination and a belief in ourselves. But most importantly both offer immense opportunities for self-discovery, growth, and the creation of unforgettable memories. So here’s to the trails we walk, in the wilderness of life. May they be filled with curiosity, wonder, and the courage to keep moving forward, one step at a time. See you at the top!

  • Trina Kennedy
Trina at the summit of Mount Gratto