10 Things to Be Grateful 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.
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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

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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.

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Brown Gal Trekker is a nomad at heart who survives the mountains to inspire others to trek them.