Since the dawn of humanity, our first modus of transportus has been putting one foot in front of the other.
I know that for me, the rediscovery of this basic yet transformative activity took place last summer in Slovenia. Not that I tend to fly the rest of the time, but I rather I made the decision to dedicate a full 10 days to the activity of walking. In the mountains. Alone.
I had just gone through one of the most intense times of my life (the universe help us on our 27th year of life) and while I was excited to go back to Europe to spend time with my family and friends I felt this call to first spend time alone to make sense of this last crazy year. And the first question was: where should I go?
I considered the French alps and the Italian Dolomites but then, out of the depths of my mind I remembered seeing this poster of the Slovenian mountains when I was in Ljubljana and told myself: that’s where I’ll go!
Without putting much more thought into it I booked my flight to Slovenia.
The next step was to figure out exactly where I should go and what trail I was going to walk. Since it had helped me in the past, I put the question on Couchsurfing and almost immediately got a lot of helpful advice. One guy said that he was a mountain guide, could help me plan my hike and even lend me some equipment if I needed it (like via feratta ropes or walking sticks). Il Capitano as I eventually got to name him was an exceptional human being and became a very good friend, along with some of his friends I met while I was there.
They sent me off on a beautiful sunny day and up I went.
And up, up, up.
1000 meters higher up than I had started, after having asking myself 1000 times WHY I was doing this to myself, I reached the first refuge.
The first question I got asked by the couple looking after the brave souls ending up there was: “How many of you are there?” and I said: “There is only one of us, I lost my dignity on the way here.” Which was kind of true - as I hobbled along trying to get used to the weight on my back and the burn in my legs, sweating every drop of water I had in me.
I woke up the next day before sunrise and walked up to the highest point nearby, which was only a short 5min away in the misty freezing mountain dawn.
That special morning marked the beginning of my 28th birthday and somehow the first thought that came to me was: I’m so grateful to still be alive. I had made it through a stormy year of changes, break-ups and new beginnings and as the sun was rising I had this incredible 360 degrees view of breathtakingly beautiful nature.
The nine days that followed were full of insights and lessons that I got by simply looking around, looking ahead, looking within, and of course … putting one foot in front of the other.
I was so revived after this first solo hike that I decided to make it a yearly commitment.
And this year didn’t fail - as I went on my own to explore the Swedish wilderness of Jämtland for a week.