• Saptadeepa Bandopadhyay

6 Life Lessons from the hiking trails

Updated: Jul 13

Growing up in towns closer to the western ghats of India, I had been for many school excursions or family picnics where we invariably ended up hiking some mountain. As kids it was all fun, but only recently on some recent travels when I experienced what a hike could mean apart from the beautiful landscape view after you had reached your destinations. The most beautiful experiences one accumulates on a hike; are from the trail.

A less explored village in Himachal Pradesh, India

The journey through a trail is just like our journey through life.

Here are some life lessons I have learnt from the hiking trails. These are some good enough reasons to motivate for your next hike / trek -


Bonding with the nature -

"Nature is not a place to visit, it is home" — Gary Snyder

In our daily fast paced routine, we often miss to soak in our surrounding vibes. We do not notice how the nature responds to the changing seasons. Trees fall old leaves, grow new ones and seasonal flowers, some even bear fruits but we are too busy with our mundane activities that we do not even notice.

But hiking trails are a blessing to absorb the purest of nature like noticing the dewdrops on the grass blades, the chirping and singing of the tiny little birds, the sunrises and sunsets, the changing soil texture every few kilometers, a distant view of a water spring. All of this makes us grateful about our beautiful earth and we become more mindful about our acts which may harm the nature.

I believe, such hikes bring us closer to the nature thus making us more responsible towards our environment. Even awareness programs cannot inculcate that feeling unless we become mindful of our surrounding.


Being in the Present -

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." Buddha

When we are on the trails, we become aware about many uneven routes, unpredictable steep rocks or puddles, sudden bend in the route, allergic plants we need to avoid.We need to be mindful of every step that we are take. It helps us keep away all the other thoughts that may have occupied our brain for the whole day at home or at work.

Such trails teach us how important it is to be mindful, focused in the present moment to avoid a sudden fall. Its a reminder, however hard we try to prove our multitasking abilities, we need to complete the task in hand first.


Trails are unpredictable, and so is life -

"Embrace the unpredictable and unexpected. It is the path to the infinitely creative in you" - Deepak Chopra

Often heard, life is an equal share of good and bad experiences! But when an adversity hits us, we tend to think why everything evil had to happen only to me and forget about all our good days.

On one trek in the Idukki Wildlife sanctuary, I still remember how challenging the descend was compared to the ascend. We were so exhilarated when we climbed though the beautiful meadows to experience a spectacular view but the way to come down was extremely strenuous while crossing the rainforest full of leeches and then the thorny bushes with no time to slow down.

Such trails are a reminder to the unpredictability of life and all we can do is embrace the path through these experiences and not by escaping them.


Also read - The Kerala Less Travelled - Vagamon


Resilience of the human spirit -

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” — Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

The hiking trails are the best reminders to never give up in our difficult situations.

There are instances where we are half way through a trail and your body might want to give up, you may feel that its impossible to proceed further or that taking up this hike was your biggest mistake. But in all such moment its our spirit that does not give up. There is a whisper in the back of our minds that tells us to keep going no matter what.

I remember, my trek to Tiger's nest in Bhutan, I kept contemplating even half way through. I didn't believe I could complete it. My body was not used to such long hours walking uphill, thanks to my desk job. But so many people on the way inspired us and gave the hope that I could too complete it.

When you have faced adversities and difficulties on the trails, you are prepared for the ones life has to throw at you.

Competing with inner demons while trekking Illikal Kallu Peak, Kerala

You are your only competition-

"The only competition that matters the most in life, is the one between you and your old self." — Edmond Mbiaka

All through our life, we find ourselves as participants of some or the other competition. Some we willingly participate in and some we unknowingly find ourselves into. We are always competing someone in our everyday lives.

But on a trail, all the focus is on our next step. We do not try to compete. If you ponder upon the famous phrase - 'Taming the mountain', you will realize that the mountain is not our competition, neither is the spectacular view after reaching our destination and neither are the people who reached the top sooner. So who is that we are competing with on that trail?

We are competing with an older version of our self and the real progress is when we are at a better position that yesterday. All that matters is, we have become a better version of our self. However small maybe the progress, it is better than yesterday.


A minimalist kit to survival-

“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” — Charles Dudley Warner

If you are aware, one has to walk longer distances on a trail. Also its tedious to keep walking with heavy luggage. So, we figure out what is the absolute essentials to survive for a few hours or days and only pack absolute basic necessities.

Then if we look back at things we possess on a day-to-day basis, we will realize that they are not essential for survival but only luxury or added comfort.

I do not mean that you need to get rid of all that stuff, but just the realization can make a difference in the long run, maybe the next time you visit the stores, you will be conscious to pick only the absolutely essential stuff.


Have you been for hikes or treks? What has been you best experiences or learning from the trails?

A sunset trek to Moonmala, Vagamon (Kerala)

Need some travel motivation? Also read -

Why you should Travel Young?

How to travel with a full-time job?

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