10 Things To Be Thankful For As A Trekker

Gratitude is  a must when it comes to creating a life fueled by positivity.  In the world of mountain trekking, I quickly learned the benefits of maintaining a grateful existence, be it on the trails or in my everyday life.  I know some maybe skeptical about this but over the years I have grown to believe in the notion of attracting whatever vibration we put out there.  Hardly do we meet people for no reason.  Oftentimes, people  and experiences enter our lives to serve a unique purpose.  When we’re grateful and acknowledge the good things happening to us, the more we are likely to attract abundance in our lives.

As a hiker who eventually returns from days of adventuring in the outdoors, I get a little sad at the idea of no longer seeing the vast beauty of nature.  However, being at home also reminds me of the things I’m grateful for.  When not on the trails, I remind myself of how trekking entails some sacrifices which then compels me to feel grateful for the things I do have when I’m home.  Here are some of them:

1. Clean clothes.

Days in the outdoors without access to clean clothes require getting used to.  The good news is that oftentimes when you’re with a group, you hardly notice the smell of anyone or yourself because you are all experiencing the same level of hygiene or lack thereof.  I know!  It still sounds gross but trust me.  When you’re in it, you won’t even notice it unless you somehow managed to shower and clean up – then that’s when you’ll notice that everyone else, but you, stinks.   So a good tip here: Have your group agree to be ALL IN with the level of uncleanliness.  Don’t shower unless everyone else does too!

2.  Hot showers.  

Oftentimes, after a day of hiking or days of trekking, the first questions is – do you shower or eat first?  I guess it all depends.  If you’ve been gone for days galavanting in the middle of nowhere, you’re either famished or too filthy.  Whichever you wish to do first, it doesn’t matter.  Either way, it’ll feel like bliss!

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Those smiles meant we didn’t have a shower for 4 days. Happy to be in the hot springs of Aguas Caliente after the Classic Inca Trail.

3.  A variety of freshly prepared meals.  

In the wilderness, you’ll hardly find variety in terms of meals.  Typically, you’re stuck with dehydrated food, trail snacks and cold meals.  If you wish to eat better, you will either have to sign up for a guided tour that provides hot meals or you carry a gourmet of food for you to cook every night which means a heavier pack.  When I think of all the things I miss when I’m out in the wild, the food has to be near the top for me.  Also, I’m a coffeeholic so unless I’m trekking in the Dolomites where coffee is simply amazing, my favorite foods are the ones I long for the most.

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Good food is like love. Can’t live without it.
coffee
This waits for you.

4.  The coziness of heat and warmth.

My trek in the Gokyo Lakes area of Nepal’s Himalayas and Ausangate in the Andes mountains of Peru were both some of the coldest moments in my trekking life.  In Peru, I had three sleeping bags.  Even with that, every morning, my water bottle couldn’t keep my water from freezing.  The same goes for the cold nights in the Gokyo Lakes region of Nepal.  Once you return to civilization, having more control over the heat in your environment is not something you’ll ever take for granted again.

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Comfortable in the sun but at night it’s freezing cold in the Gokyo region of Nepal.

5.  Oxygen.  

For me, it’s a tie between food and oxygen.  And at times, oxygen has become the first on my list.  As I almost died climbing up Kilimanjaro, I can’t tell you how thankful I was to be able to descend to lower elevations to breathe a good amount of oxygen again.  I’ve trekked at high altitude for almost a month in China and learned much more about the effects of it.  The symptoms from altitude mountain sickness can come in various forms such as sleepiness, headache, insomnia, but can also be much worse as you get higher.  (For ways to prepare for high altitude, see Kilimanjaro Kills: Here Are 13 Ways to Survive).  Although your body eventually gets used to high altitude, it’s still worth noting how amazing it feels to go back to the normal level of oxygen.  Always!

6.  Toilets

I’m stating the obvious… but it has to be noted.  The digging a hole on the ground is too much work.  Same goes for burning that toilet paper and trying to find the right place with enough privacy to do your business.  And you would never really want to step into that group toilet tent again…ever!  All you can think of is your toilet back home.  Some treks will truly make you dream about your toilet like it’s your soulmate.  Don’t feel bad.  This is all normal.

toilet
Yes, you’ll miss it.

7.  Beds.  

Luckily, I’m able to get decent sleep without an actual bed.  But that doesn’t negate the immense joy I feel from walking back into a hostel room to find myself a nice comfy bed with pillows!  The longer the trek, the more you’ll miss this luxury.  Be rest assured that no matter how long the trek maybe, there’s always going to be a bed and a set of pillows waiting for you at the end of the tunnel.

bed
Bed with a living cat heater? Nice way to be welcomed back.

8.  Family and friends.  

They may drive you nuts in your daily life but after a while of being in the wilderness, you’ll start missing the annoyances that they bring  to your life.  You’ll realize they matter to you more than you think and care to admit.  You’ll long to see them again.  The thought of the next time you meet them just excites you the longer you trudge on the trail.   You can’t wait to tell them about the trek and the adventure you just had.

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You’ll miss your non-hiking friends – the yogis and yoginis. A different kind of adventure.

9.  Solitude.  

Imagine being with a group for days on a trekking trip.  It may be fun for the first few days but getting away from them starts becoming more appealing.  You’ll soon find out that you need alone time away from your fellow trekkers.  But getting that alone time is elusive.  It isn’t easy to get when you’re huddled together to share that heat from the dung-fire to fight off the below freezing temperatures every night.  Soon enough, you’ll be looking forward to your solo walks near your house and the time you spend reading a good book at home without anyone interrupting you.

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A moment on your own can be a much needed space…in South Africa’s Drakensberg.

10.  Unforgettable memories.  

So, your trek is over.  You miss the mountains and that favorite trail of yours.  Is there really a reason to sulk? Ah, no!  Not really.  Go to your laptop and open up that memory card. Voila!  There you’ll see the photos you took to capture the moments you had on that mountain peak.  Those memories are part of you now.  Be grateful for the experience. And, when you do, the more you appreciate what you had, the more you’ll have similar amazing experiences in the future.

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A day hike to Fitz Roy in Argentina meant braving the winds for the sake of this beauty.

Oh, and by the way, be grateful you’re alive and had lived through the adventure, only to do more of it!  Until the next time you trek, say ‘thank you’ every day.  Soon enough you’ll be back on the trail eating leftover dehydrated spaghetti from the night before for breakfast and begrudgingly using the toilet tent.

Anything you wish to add?

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22 thoughts on “10 Things To Be Thankful For As A Trekker”

  1. In the Himalayas, I always feel gratefl to the locals. These are nice people who always help out and makes me wonder why live in the ctiies anyway?

  2. I can relate to this very well. After long duration of normal travel some of these factors are valued very much. Particularly my own bed. The photographs we bring back is the best part of the whole trip.

  3. I really love trekking, so I identify my self in most of the points you describe in your list. I climbed up many of the most famous chinese mountains…such as Yellow Mountains, Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaigou, Tiger leaping gorge etc.. and I was really exhausted at the end..I mean about the oxygen, so I can imagine your experience on Kilimanjaro. But I’m really curious to climb up that mountainx surely is amazing 🙂

    Stefano

  4. Love the list! The one I’m most grateful for are toilets haha. I love hiking and nature but unfortunately I don’t live in a mountains area. I hike whenever I travel and have the opportunity to do so though.

  5. Haha, being a trekker II can so relate to this post. During my Everest Base camp trek I did not have a bath for 12 days. Impatient, I washed my head on the 9th day. The water was so cold I regretted it. And I agree with you. People and circumstances come in life for a reason. Good, bad, ugly whatever happens to us, happens for a reason.

  6. I often go hiking in areas that are not very remote and that affords me the luxury of sleeping in a bed and having hot meals. I find it extremely rewarding as I get to focus on the beauty of nature much more, than when I go trekking full gear and sleeping outside.

  7. Your advise is truly essential to a newbie trekker like me. I just did one trek in 2016 and struggled through the most of it. But I do plan to return again.

  8. These are definitely things to be thankful for that we take for granted until we live without them for awhile. I thought it was funny about how you don’t notice you and others smell bad until you yourself have a shower and they don’t. It definitely feels good when you get these comforts back.

  9. Well..it’s rightly said you don’t value things until you actually miss them. Your post just made me value the things we regularly do in our lives without feeling thankful, we take them for granted like the everyday warm water shower, the varieties of food etc. Got to value them!! And on another note – trekking seems to make you tougher.

  10. Haha yes this is perfect! It is so easy to forget some of these things sometimes when you have not been on the road for a while! Toilets is such a massive one haha sitting down can really be taken for granted sometimes!

  11. My husband and I are avid outdoor junkies, and we’ve pondered this wacky love before. What drives some folks to spend days without running water, electricity, warmth or a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning, and nights spent camped on sharp rocks or mountain ledges? Our more sane friends and families think we’re nuts, but like you, we’re already dreaming of our next outdoor adventure as soon as we get home and have 1. showered and 2. eaten a home-cooked meal. The ability to travel largely where, when, and how one wants but to come home to all those comforts definitely creates a sense of gratitude!

  12. Really enjoyed your read as usual. Loved all your points and even though I am not a trekker, it is easy to take for granted those little luxuries in life. I think my family is what I would miss the most if I was away from home often, they lift my spirits often.

  13. Yep, totally agree. It’s only when you’re away from comforts you take for granted that you appreciate them. And there are certainly things on trek – solitude in particular, for me – that you miss when you come back. Great post! 🙂

  14. For me it is usually the hot shower and the wc that eventually is on my mind after a day of walking. Have not been out on a multiple day hike yet, so I assume that other things would increase in appreciation in that case. Can imagine that it gets harder the longer the duration. 🙂

  15. Love this list!
    When I was hiking the Camino it was definitely HOT SHOWERS! I must have taken like 4 cold to luke warm showers before I got one that was hot! I remember almost falling asleep in there.
    I agree with you about the prepped food. I can eat anything but when you arrive at a base and someone is cooking a real meal for everyone, I don’t care the cost!

    1. Oh my, yes! I hear you on all that you said – showers, food…. but we keep on doing it. So there’s something to trekking that we keep coming home to! Cheers!

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