Written by Julia Schaffer
Happy Earth Day!! I believe that helping and appreciating the earth that we have been blessed to live on is a way to pay it back for all the beautiful wonders it does for us and all the lessons it teaches us. I have been passionate about hiking my whole life and since I have been at W&J, this passion has led me to take on bigger and greater adventures. To me, hiking is more than just a fun way to pass time. The earth in all its splendor has taught me so much about myself and life in general. Here are some things that hiking has taught me:
One of my first “big” hikes was to the top of Picacho Peak in Tucson, Arizona. The hike was not easy. The course of this trail required that you hike almost to the top of one side of the mountain just to go down a steep decline on the other side and climb from the bottom once more. There was one portion where you needed to hold onto a cable to pull yourself up a very steep portion of the climb. Hours of hiking seemed like nothing as I saw the view from the top. Pushing through fatigue and fears, allowed me and my classmates to really appreciate how capable we were and that no mountain was too high nor obstacle too tough.
My first completely solo hike was accomplished when I was 19. I went on a Magellan funded research trip to Norway. I met incredible families and saw incredible views for 3 weeks of learning. However, on my last two days I had two very big goals that I wanted to accomplish alone. One goal was to trek across Juvassbren glacier and climb to the top of Galdhøpiggen. Galdhøpiggen is Northern Europe’s highest peak, reaching a height of 2,469 meters. The hike was roughly 3-4 hours up and 2 hours down. I had to make my way to the base of the mountain and find my way to the peak on my own. It was probably one of the scariest but all time greatest days of my life.
I think it is impossible to stand on top of a mountain and not feel your personal problems wash away. Their massive beauty shows how small your problems are and helps you really put your life into focus. Two hikes that really exemplified this for me: 1. Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona and 2. Besseggen in Norway. How can I be stressed when I know there are views like this out there????
There are some moments when you just have to really appreciate how incredible this earth is and how badly we need to protect it. I call these the “wow” moments. The moments when you are just completely in awe of our planet. These pictures are from the top of Mount Titlis in Switzerland and from the top of the Picos de Europa in Spain.
Lastly, it has taught me that we are not alone!
We are not the only ones who live here. There are countless species who share this diverse planet with us and deserve protection just as much as everything else. Here are some beautiful creatures I have gotten to glimpse during my times in the wild: