Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer
I have always hated hiking.
Stumbling over tangles of roots, trekking across insect-infested dirt mounds, tripping over hidden branches–none of this has ever been appealing to me. Unfortunately, it’s always been four against one in my family.
Recently, we loaded up our minivan and took a trip to the Smoky Mountains. My parents are adventurous beyond belief; they long to venture along rugged mountain terrain, hop over raging rivers, and even to spot a black bear on their journey. My siblings took after them in terms of their athleticism and willingness to hike far distances with unwavering physical ability. I, on the other hand, have not been such a happy camper.
They see the beauty of a mountain? I see an impossible obstacle that will inevitably crush my spirit (and leg muscles). Over the years, I have endured a ten mile hikes, acquired irritatingly itchy mosquito bites, gone to the bathroom in less-than-sanitary places, and had my run in with more spiders and insects than I’d care for. If you asked me why, I’d simply answer “because I had to”.
This trip, however, the tables turned. After a freezing morning hike which involved six layers of clothing, my parents asked if any of us cared to go on another adventure. I looked between their faces and became the only one to agree. My brother and sister stared at me in disbelief. I even heard my dad chuckle, “The one who hates hiking the most!”.
I’m still not sure what possessed me to agree, but I was glad I did. I spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with my parents about the events of my life and exploring a (thankfully) short, secluded trail with a babbling river. The dribbling of the water blended with our cheery conversations like a hushed melody, a nice contrast to my typically obnoxious complaints. Seated on a rock, I marveled up at the beautiful curvature of the mountain I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate before.
On the drive back to the cabin, my dad turned me to and said, “I’m glad you came. It’s like when Mom asks me to go shopping: even though it’s not my favorite, I do it just because I want to spend time with the people I love.”
After my dad said this, the hike we ventured on the next day didn’t seem so torturous because rather than focusing on all the external forces of Mother Nature, I directed my attention to the cheerful humming of my sister or the goofy jokes of my dad. Though my legs burned and I could feel the mosquito bites beginning to swell, I was almost a happy camper.