Three lessons from an unexpectedly EPIC mountain hike:

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“The first part is steep, but it gets easier from there.” That was what our good friend told us about the 3.75 km Ak-Suu waterfall hike at the Ala-Archa National Park, just a one-hour drive from our home here in Kyrgyzstan. So last weekend we excitedly told a small group of friends that we’d have a leisurely hike – followed by lunch at the waterfall! Who could resist?

We were all caught off guard when we discovered that not only the beginning, but also the middle and the end of the hike were ALL steep! It was very challenging for our group of casual hikers, but in the end, we had an awesome time – and we made it to the waterfall.

For some reason, we don’t finish many things that we start – often not because we cannot do them, but because we do not expect them to be so difficult. Here’s some lessons that we learned on our hike:

1. Slow and steady finishes.

About halfway into the hike, we met a couple veteran hikers. They were on their way back from the waterfall, and they encouraged us with one simple but impactful piece of advice: “Slow and steady.” Don’t go too fast, or you’ll burn out. But don’t quit either! Just keep walking, one step at a time.

We took the first leg of the hike too quickly (expecting it to get easier) and exhausted ourselves. But we slowed down and not only recovered – we also enjoyed the hike and the beautiful scenery much more.

2. The power of going the road together.

There’s an old saying that I learned in Korea: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I might have gone faster alone, but it would’ve been much harder to finish. And honestly, if it was just Becky and I, we really might have settled on seeing the waterfall from the halfway point – and then gone home! But everyone encouraged each other continually to keep pushing ahead because it would be worth it – and it was.

Do you know what was most encouraging? Every time we stopped to rest, we were ALL still there including the youngest and least experienced hikers – tired, but determined to finish! That motivated me.

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3. “The journey is better than the end.” (Cervantes)

Collages1The funny thing is that as beautiful as the waterfall was, there were so many other beautiful places that we saw along the way. There were snow-capped mountains, quiet streams of water, green mountain meadows and flowers everywhere. In the end, I took about twenty pictures at the waterfall and two hundred pictures on the way there and back!

Is anything in your life these days unexpectedly difficult – or epic? What is helping you? Comment and share!

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