1.This summer I embarked on a 23 day backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail. The experience challenged me in ways I never could have expected, thus allowing me to grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. During the 23 days of backpacking our group of 12 participants trekked through snowy mountains, hiked over arduous mountain passes, crossed flowing rivers with glacier runoff, cooked dehydrated food over portable stoves, and slept in tents. We did not see civilization for the entirety of the expedition, but we did meet interesting people from all over the world and witnessed sunsets over mountain ranges that I could not have dreamt of.
2. The High Sierra Leadership Expedition changed me. The challenges presented to me on the trip felt intense, and more often than not, overcoming these obstacles required my full attention. I had to be completely aware of my surroundings and in tune with the conditions of my body in order to complete the physical challenges of hiking the John Muir Trail. In addition, this journey made me feel more conscious of the power of the mind than anything before. This 190 mile hike indeed a proved itself as a physical test, but more than anything it was an extreme exercise in endurance and mental toughness. Early on I realized how critical it was to live day by day, and when the path got steep, I learned to break it down to step by step. By living in this mindset, I understood what it meant to live in the moment and be conscious of your surroundings. By being present I allowed myself to find fulfillment in the moment, at the task at hand, rather than some distant future. This made every experience feel more extraordinary. Instead of being preoccupied by checking another thing off my to do list I noticed the vibrant wildflowers and awe-striking mountains. Acting in such a manner not only made the journey more enjoyable, but led to better performance.
Twelve participants embarked on the backpacking trip, and the majority of us began the journey with no prior backpacking experience; therefore, the first few days of hiking proved vigorous and taxing on the body and mind. I think we all internally questioned whether we were up to the challenge. On the morning of the third day on the trail, one of my peers vocalized his concerns to the group. He explained how he felt worried that he would not be able to complete the 190 miles and scared that he was slowing the group down. His concerns were legitimate, but he was psyching himself out too much. Everyone reassured him that he was not alone in his doubts, but that he had to believe in himself.I shared with him my techniques for coping with doubt, which included thinking positively, practicing gratitude for a body healthy enough to move and carry oneself up mountains and for having the opportunity to be out here enjoying the stunning views. I also stressed the importance of looking at the bigger picture. Yes, our body’s ached from the miles and weight of the pack, but that soreness would soon turn into muscle and by the end of the trip not only would we return physically stronger, but mentally stronger. This experience taught me that if we can push through hump, which already felt like the most challenging task of our lives, then any issue at home or at school will seem menial and we will conquer it with no problems.
Experience similar to the one described above interweaved themselves periodically throughout the entirety of the trip. These moments of weakness followed by reassurance opened my eyes to the power of maintaining a positive mindset. I learned that thinking positively makes every experience more enjoyable and makes every goal seem more achievable. From these experiences, I saw how having a positive mindset motivates those around you, and contributes to an overall well being.
This change is transformational and valuable to my life because I feel like I have adapted a new mindset that will allow me to be a healthier, more productive and more charismatic version of myself. When one is truly present, then he/she enters a state called flow, and we fully experience the things going on around us. Acknowledging this will prove valuable for all aspects of my life because life is sure to be filled with experiences and in order to grow from them, I need to be present.
The High Sierra Leadership Expedition also influenced my life, for I learned what it felt like to be pushed outside of your comfort zone, and grow from it. I noticed that while reflecting on the trip, I wouldn’t dwell on the bad stuff, instead I would reminisce on the experiences that made me feel alive. I found this interesting, that we remember things as better than they were, and I think that this can be partially attributed to the fact that it is often from negative experiences that we grow, which is vital for being happy. This realization relates to my future plans for I know that I will seek out experiences that facilitate personal growth for myself and others.
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