This morning I didn’t want to go hiking. I woke up and did my workout as it bucketed rain outside. Even my normal workout routine was a struggle because Huaraz, Peru sits at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3052 meters). The slightest activity at that level makes you breathe like you’ve been a chain smoker for 50 years.
So I decided since I didn’t have a rain shell and since I wasn’t use to the altitude, I’d go to the front desk and ask for backup plans for my day. I was shocked (and a bit angry) that the hostel host refused to give me other ideas.
He said, “You are doing Laguna Churup today.”
I said, “But it’s raining and miserable out. Isn’t there an easier option?”
He replied, “You are doing Laguna Churup today. Every day is a beautiful day in nature and rain doesn’t matter.”
My last ditch effort, “But I don’t have a rain jacket to wear…”
He handed me his poncho and that was that—I was hiking Laguna Churup today and there was no escape. The thought of him looking at me with his resolved and disappointed face all day was all the motivation I needed to head to the bus.
An hour later, I was trudging up a trail and hardly able to breathe despite the relatively easy incline. I should’ve been miserable but here are ten photos that show why every painful step was worth it.
1 - As soon as you reach the first crest, this is the view that greets you.
2 - Then you just keep getting closer and closer.
3 - Until you scale up rubber-coated chains Indiana Jones style while forgetting how tired you are because you’re having too much fun.
4 - Minutes later, you stumble upon this insane view.
5 - And of course you have to go for a closer look.
6 - And pause a million times while you’re eating your snacks because you need to take another photo.
7 - And stop to think how meta it is to do some reflecting while staring at this view.
8 - Then hike past this scene on the way to the mirador which is at a Mount-Rainier dwarfing 16,535 feet (5040 meters).
9 - Before heading back down via a different route that is no less breathtaking.
10 - And catching the colectivo back while daydreaming of the adventure you just had and grudgingly admitting that the guy at the hostel did you a big favor today.
Life is full of moments where it’d be easier to stay in bed or to make the choice that keeps you in your comfort zone. A few days ago, I sincerely just wanted to stay in Medellin for a month. Three months ago, everyone told me to just find another job immediately and I almost did. Five years ago, I could’ve just stayed in Florida and not set off on my own to a city I’d never even visited. But days like today make you realize that every adventurous choice you make is one that you will not regret and that it will lead you down a path to a rich, unique life that you’d not trade for anything in the world.
That doesn’t mean tomorrow I won’t have a million excuses for why I should have a recovery day instead of hiking again. But I think we all know that the hostel guy isn’t about to let me off that easily.