Pride and Vanity. Or: How to Go Hiking in Montserrat
Last weekend, I went hiking with some guys in Montserrat, a city just outside Barcelona.
I got thrown into the group by a random series of events – a combination of 1) good timing and 2) the generosity of Gilles, who thought he could squish ooone more person into his back seat.
So, our group was random.
But in my world, “random” and “awesome” are synonyms.
Gilles, Fabio, Vini, Axel and I started our day by parking alongside the winding road and began our climb at the bottom of the mountain.
Crisp air filled our lungs as a thin path wound us through cool shade and sun-burnt ledges. The sharp fall weather kept the sweat from my skin, the perfect temp for a rigorous climb.We started our day by parking alongside the winding road and began our climb at the bottom of the mountain.
Bright, blue sky…sun shinning…birds singing…The more we hiked, the more confident I became that we had stepped into a Disney movie.
The views were breath-taking and the mountain was splattered with rock and trees.
After two hours of hiking, we spied our destination: A monastery nestled in the bluffs.
It was at the bottom of a valley and we were at the top of the mountain, which meant a solid half hour of steep, downhill steps. I pretty much did high-knees for 30 minutes straight.
My high school soccer coach would be proud.
(What up, Gary?!)
I am vainly proud of the fact that I was able to keep pace with the guys. They never once had to slow down for me.
But by the time we reached the bottom, my legs were shaking like jello.
I should have taken video, it was impressive.
Or impressively weird.
“Stop that, you’re freaking me out.” – Axel
They need a higher threshold for the weird and the strange.
We reached the bottom of the valley and discovered a few well-placed restaurants, waiting for climbers just like us.
Imagine hiking for 2.5 hours, reaching your destination, and being greeted with food and sangria.
Forget the Disney movie, this was heaven!
We ate our food in high spirits: I was physically exhausted but emotionally exuberant.
Then, we decided to check out the monastery.
It was a dramatic shift.
We walked from the bright daylight into the somber church.
The juxtaposition was startling.
Within 30 seconds of stepping inside, I shifted into a pensive mood and started reflecting on my life. I knelt, prayed, and even said hi to my dad.
The reverent art and pain-staking detail of the monastery was awe-inspiring. I was moved by it.
Weeks later, I’m still not sure whether the monastery had that emotional power on its own, or if I was particularly vulnerable after exhausting myself on the hike.
Either way, it was a unique, soulful, and utterly unexpected experience.
Stepping back outside, it took me and the boys a few minutes to collect ourselves – it seemed I was not the only one who was affected – before we could re-adjust to the bright, light-hearted mood that had started our hike.
I suddenly realized that we had finished our day…but now we had to hike back to the car.
We chose for the shorter route via the road. But even so, my jello-calves longed for me to play the damsel-in-distress card and beg Vinicius to carry me.
But I did not.
I have my pride, after all.
My blistered feet managed to get me to the car.
As we gathered into the car…well, anyone who knows me well could guess what happened next.
I’m like a child.
You need to feed me and give me naps.
Emphasis on the naps.
I was worn out and I had been fed. The only thing that was left was the nap.
I truly have no control over this. When I am done, I am done. My body shuts down on its own accord.
I don’t think Gilles had even put the key in the ignition before my gaze became hazy and my eyelids drooped.
Hmm, is it just me or has Fabio’s shoulder become really attractive in the last six seconds?
It kind of looks like a pillow now, right?
I basically just met the guy, but I could ask to sleep on his shoulder, right? Or is that weird? I think I’ve met my weird-threshold for the day and I really shouldn’t go over it…
I considered my options – and Fabio’s shoulder – for three mili-seconds.
But that was three mili-seconds too long.
Before I could come to a conscious decision, I was already asleep.
Apparently, I spent the hour-long ride back to Barcelona with my head tilted back, my mouth wide open, and drool down the side of my face.
So much for my pride.