The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done (Conclusion)

Okay, so while I’d love to pen the next The Illyiad, I have decided to forego the Homeric prose and tell y’all about the conclusion of my 9-day hiking trip Cafe-styles.

As you know from the intro post (that was Freshly Pressed!), I had already managed to injure my knee on Day One of our hike. What you don’t know is that two others in our group had also pulled or strained some body part or another before the second day’s end, so that we were all crawling along at a snail’s pace and nowhere near reaching our intended campsite.

It was that night that we all somberly realized that the trip could come to an end the very next morning. There was no point going on if we couldn’t move faster than dying turtles.

The saddest part was that the life-sucking, injury-inducing two days of hiking we had endured was supposedly the easiest part of the whole loop. Our fourth comrade (the non-injured one) had done this trail before and assured us that it was only getting harder from here on out.

So it was the morning of Day Three. We were all still in pretty bad shape. We decided that the first hour of hiking would be our test. It started off rough, but we kept going and nobody wanted to be the one to back down.

So the next thing we knew, we were at “the hard part.” And at this point, there was no turning back.

The part of the trail that will forever live on in my memory is what I’ve named The Descent From Hell. It was basically many, many, many feet of extremely steep, at times almost vertical, descent with sharp, jagged rocks scattered all along down the slope. It had been raining non-stop for the past couple of hours which was making things even more dangerous and slippery.

I’m normally a pretty tough cookie, but I was honestly holding back tears on my way down. The worst part is when it feels like half an hour just passed to advance ten steps, and then you look down to the bottom and realize how many more painstaking, stomach-churning “half hours” you have left to go.

My fear of heights and the pack that felt like it could easily throw me off balance and hurtling down the slope was probably what made this descent feel a hundred times worse for me.

It was at this point that I knew this trip would be the hardest thing I’d ever do.

But what I love about these mental challenges is that it gives you so much strength for all of the other hard things that come up unexpectedly along life’s path. And really, after that, nothing on the trip seemed as insurmountable.

By day four, I think all of us had found our groove. We had each figured out the best ways to navigate the terrain, we knew what hours of hiking would feel like, and we had built confidence in ourselves and our team.

There was so much beauty to see, that I couldn’t understand why other hikers we met along the way were attempting the loop in two or three days! (Never mind why they’d want to, the thought of how they were going to was mind-boggling). There was so much to enjoy and savour that I don’t think I’d ever want to do the trail in less than nine days.

Those never-ending uphills felt so worth it when you got to another amazing view. And even until the last day, there was always something new to see — like the “quartzite highways”, The Lord of the Rings-like scenery, and the Jurassic Park forest.

We met many hikers during our journey — many more than we had anticipated. But then again, since we were moving at a senile pace it was no wonder that everyone starting before us was lapping us! While being in solitude for most of the trip was nice, it was great to meet and share stories with our fellow campers.

The last few days brought us sunshine and a day of much-needed rest. As our packs got lighter and we became acclimatized to our daily routine, we were finally able to pick up the pace!

Nine days is a long time to be out there and things that I didn’t know could hurt — like my elbows, of all things — hurt. But I loved (almost) every moment of this crazy hike and at times just felt so elated and fortunate to be out there. I’m looking forward to the next one!

– Cafe <3

If you didn’t answer the question on the first post: What’s the hardest thing you’ve done (physically and/or mentally)?


74 thoughts on “The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done (Conclusion)

  1. Finally had the time to look at these pictures. What an incredible experience you had. Did you take these pictures with your phone or a camera? Amazing..

  2. Awesome stuff! Great adventure. Its funny because lots of times the hardest things we do (and make it though) are the things that leave the deepest impressions…like a 9 day hiking trip! :)

  3. Amazing pictures. I would love to do something like that one day! It must really feel like such an accomplishment afterwards. I am not quite sure what the hardest thing I’ve done yet is – perhaps having a 4 hour lecture at uni, life as a student is hard! ;)
    Your blog is great!
    Greetings from Denmark

    • Greetings from Canada!
      Thank you so much! Yes, it really did feel like one of the most amazing accomplishments I’ve had thus far :)
      Oh my. A 4 hour university lecture should definitely rank up there!! Even three is brutal, I don’t think I’ve ever had to sit through 4! You’re a survivor hehe!

  4. First let me say…I love they way you’ve shared your experience in this post. I’ve had hiking experiences similar to this. Very similar because oddly enough the terrain wasn’t that different. In Europe. It was very hard. Though I have to still say nearly two decades later the hardest thing for me was to quit smoking…it was physically and mentally hard to do.

  5. You always have such beautiful pictures of your outdoor adventures! I’ve only hiked with a pack once before but yeah it definitely adds quite a challenge to the whole experience especially when you’re exhausted. You’re photos make me miss my hiking adventure..I can’t wait to get back to hiking next year when I live in a more hiker friendly environment.

    • Thank you, sweetheart! I can’t take credit for every single pic, but I think also it’s just the place — it’s so gorgeous!

      So you are moving next year?

      • Yup it’s off to Florida thank goodness! It’s amazing how the one summer that I spend in Texas there’s constantly record setting heat where every day is over 40C. Pretty crazy how much weather can effect your attitude and lifestyle. Florida should have temperatures closer to what I’m used to in Hawaii. Can’t wait! :)

  6. Ah, the long-awaited conclusion (still great even if it was in cafe-prose)!

    The most memorable battles are the ones hardest fought, and (as you say) what a perspective for future battles in life. You got through this; you can get through anything! Makes a trip to the dentist pretty trivial.

    My hardest task… probably getting divorced. Once I finally married I really did think it would be forever. Lost a wife and two step-kids all in one go. Nothing physical I’ve done compares.

    Ugh, bummer of a way to end a comment; let’s switch modes…. regarding your trip’s conclusion: As I suspected, more rice was involved! We have the photographic evidence! :)

  7. I know this feeling:: “we were all crawling along at a snail’s pace and nowhere near reaching our intended campsite” Even as tirred and in pain nature is enjoyable :). Your way of writing makes me rally imagine how it was. Now im inspired to blogg about my trip in Norway, thanks!

  8. Gorgeous photos. It’s so pretty there in the fall — those colours and the sky are lovely. I’m glad you were able to tough it out and finish up your entire hike and journey. So much more worth it to complete it all, even when everything does hurt.
    What a great trip!

    • Thank you! Yeah, it would have been sad if we didn’t end up continuing on the third day. No matter what, safety and the health of our team came first. But after having completed the loop (safely) I’m so glad we were able to pull through. Such an awesome feeling!

  9. WOW…stunning photographs!!! Make this into a book for posterity…a friend of mine went fishing in Alaska and there were pictures of him with the Kodiak’s, scary and amazingly beautiful at the same time. His sister made a book for him and he keeps it on the coffee table. It is SO cool! Your trip creates that same feeling of beauty and wonder, perfect for a book.

    • That’s a wonderful idea and I agree, some magical pictures were captured on this particular trip. You know, I always say I’m going to go develop some photos for various trips and I never do it ’cause I forget or it seems too expensive, blah, blah, blah. But there’s something really nice about looking at actualy, REAL photos as opposed to off a screen!

      • Over the last several years I have been going through boxes of family treasures that have been passed on from generation to generation, mostly pictures. The coolest things that I have found were: a work diary for a few years handwritten from late 1800s into the 1900s, a photo book from my great grandfather of his trips with handwritten captions and a letter from one family member to another in which she describes daily life in all the dust. She was living through the great “Dust Bowl” period and I was able to look at real US history on a personal level. You have already done the hardest part. Just use what you wrote in your blog. It’s perfect!

        • Wow, that’s totally awesome. I would love to be able to leave something for the next generations down the family line. I have a lot of journals but perhaps something that’s not just about my personal thoughts but more of what’s going on in this day and age. That would be cool. You got my wheels turning …

  10. I think I have missed a few, I am wondering how. This is a marvelous ending though. Wonderful pictures and great storytelling as always.

    Your bravery is inspiring. I am afraid you would have been dragging me through those landscapes by day 5, nevermind day 9. I am going to have to go back and read the rest.

    • Uh oh, hopefully there’s nothing wrong with my account again!

      Thank you, dear Valentine. We were all dragging ourselves along for a few days, so don’t feel left behind :)

  11. Alls I can say,my friend,is two things…WOW,and I’m so proud of you! Awesome post,gorgeous pics! :D

    The DC…er…Steve :P

    • Thanks, Andy! Hey, why can’t you do a trek like this?!

      Haha! I don’t know what a song about camping would be like. Any ideas on an opening line? :)

  12. Pingback: The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done (Conclusion) | My story to you..

  13. I must have missed the other post. Great pics in this one. And when it comes to hard core hiking in inclement weather, I feel your pain. As for the scariest and most difficult thing, maybe hiking the volcano in Stromboli down in Sicily. Almost fell off a cliff while trying to get across a shale wall that started coming apart. But I’ll never forget it. What doesn’t kill you makes you live another day, I reckon.

    • Thank you! Yes, there is so much to appreciate about my homeland. Gotta start exploring outside the province though and see what else it has to offer.

      I hope you really do get a chance to go hiking this weekend! ;)

  14. beautiful! i’m sure it was a wonderful and magical experience!
    to answer your question, hardest thing i’ve done? to be a single mom. lol!

    i hope one day i could go hiking and camping, again. this time with my daughter. :)
    spent all my childhood years beside a mountain and once in awhile we’ll go up and just walk and talk. i miss that.

    thank you for sharing this. again, beautiful photos! :)

    • Oh, being a single mom has to definitely be up there on the world’s list of hardest things to ever do! So a big kudos to you on that!

      And definitely get your daughter into camping, nature and all that good stuff! It’s a kind of fulfilling experience that you can’t get from anything else :)

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