It’s 3:00AM in El Chalten, Argentina. I find myself soaking in a hotel tub that’s just a hair too small. My legs, feet, and hips are achy everywhere. Sleep isn’t happening anymore for the night. This has become more and more part of my life. Early wake ups for a variety of reasons, but today I would have been happy to sleep in. Oh well. I’ve been tired before. I’ll sleep later. Rest when I’m dead, right?
We set out on an epic hike yesterday with our TrovaTrip group. 16 miles, 8 hours, and some steep climbing I have been very nervous about. I knew that this would be a physical test for me. It was a chance to see if the training, gear, strategy, and physical ability all lined up (writing this last sentence makes me excited). These are days I love.
All week, we have hiked and toured the area between El Calafate and El Chalten. The various hikes were between 4-8 miles in a variety of weather conditions, but other than one rainy, gross day, everything has been excellent.
I am going to share my three journaling prompts regarding the day I had. This will help me process this day and get it filed away as useful information for my future.
What brought me enthusiasm?
Doing this hike had my attention all day. Much different than the previous day's hikes. This one has been looming over the trip. Ringing an alarm in my head. “Are we in shape enough?” “Can the knee and hip handle it?” “That 8 miles kicked my ass, how can I do 16 with more climbing?”
At the end of it, all those voices of doubt don’t get a vote in my life. Not today. Today I am focused on the task. From my early wake up, hot shower, stretching, breakfast, packing, gear choices, etc., my mind has had its eyes on today since we left home.
Throughout the day, I stayed extremely present. The trail and effort required it. The only thing that was going to defeat me today was going to be me. Not the trail or conditions, but my inability to prepare. I know I am prepared. Time to test the machine again and this mountain and trail absolutely did. It felt like competing again, and it had similar vibes to doing Bryce Canyon last year. Today mattered. It has my full attention.
This focus is one of my favorite things. Time to eliminate all the “what ifs” and perform at my best.
Seeing these perspectives and views of our mesmerizing planet's natural landscapes has always changed me. Feeling that change during the day is unbearable. I am no longer the same man that began that hike. I am better. I answered the call and showed up. Rewarded by views you can’t buy, only earned.
Having lunch near the Laguna de Los Tres will hold my top lunch spot for a long time. Today's effort made a simple bag lunch Michelin quality. It makes laying on the ground perfect. It makes me thankful for all that is around me. Thankful for the opportunities this life has. Thankful for my team at HVIII and all those that answer the call to take action and improve themselves.
On the way down, we were treated to more spectacular views that cameras don’t have the ability to capture.
Today I connected on every level. With my surroundings, myself, and the people around me on this adventure. I don’t like to compare days like today to other favorite days. For me, it simply doesn’t get better than this. Just different. I want as many days that feel like this as I can before I’m dead.
What drained me of energy and took me out of being present?
The hike down after lunch was a steep 40° switchback style trail of wet rocks and big steps. Down already kicks my ass more than up. Factor in crowds of people all wanting to enjoy the same thing I’m here for, and boom, I find myself frustrated and wanting to be shitty with people.
The reality is this.
My hip and knee hurt. This section is not fun or challenging. It is more dangerous for me and it makes me hate everyone. By the time we got to the bottom, I was pretty annoyed and hurting.
After catching my breath, I quickly realize I’m only being shitty because I’m in pain. Pain brought me back to this. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of falling. Fear and pain. It was there the day before as well. We did a short steep slippery hike in the rain. My gear wasn’t ideal. All my shit is wet. I’m cold and the injury risk is higher than I’d like for the reward ahead.
I see where that voice originated from. Fear and pain.
What did I learn?
I have more self work to do. I can manage that fear and pain better. Keep my head where it needs to be. Remember that hard shit should push you. It’s part of the design.
I love seeing this planet. The more of it I see, the more I want to explore. I can see time and time again how we as Americans are conditioned into fear of others. That everywhere is a dangerous place without law and order. Every time I travel someplace new I find the opposite. I find love, beauty, hospitality, and oftentimes, more freedom.
Patagonia is not overrated. It is wonderful and has felt like a South American ICELAND to me. Lack of service, remote nature of it, extreme environments and climate, and the people who live here genuinely love their country. Not in a way they need a bumper sticker or a fucking hat to explain. They live it. They enjoy their pace of life. They focus on happiness and being fulfilled. They are taking advantage of this incredible landscape. The enthusiasm and awe they have for this country is inspiring.
During the hike and getting caught in the views, I remember a phrase that kept coming up. “I get it.” Looking around and constantly being obliterated by the views and scale. “I get it.” Why this place is popular. “I get it.” And why I know I’ll be returning, not just to Patagonia, but to South America for more adventures.
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