Resilience: The Key to Successful Adventures

You picked out the perfect hike.

Next, you downloaded the maps, read all of the documentation one more time, packed your bag with everything you needed, and set out.  Then you reached what was supposed to be the trailhead.  Instead of a neatly marked little sign, you found a newly erected construction site. 

Somehow, you still managed to find the trail.  And then you started walking.  It was hard – much harder than you expected.  You walked uphill…a lot.  You got lost.  You never found the cave you were trying to reach.  There was a brief run-in with a beehive along the way.

And on the way back down at the end of the morning, dripping with sweat and dust, you thought, “Man, that was a great adventure.”

Sounds familiar?  If so, then you probably have what it takes to really experience the great outdoors: resilience.

Resilience is generally thought of in relation to much bigger things than hiking.  Resilient people view the world with optimism rather than despair.  They are self-aware and confident in their ability to handle life.  Being resilient means avoiding catastrophizing – one difficult hour doesn’t equal a horrible day.

But developing your resilience can also have a powerful effect on the smaller things in your life.

Almost no hike goes exactly as planned.  And even the best adventures are always imperfect.

Take just about any of the hundreds of hikes that I’ve written about.  If I think hard, I can remember many “negative” parts of the experience.  Let’s look at Hod Akev, one of my most memorable and favorite desert adventures:

We struggled to find the trail at the beginning of the hike, as the Israel Trail had been rerouted.  We hadn’t eaten at all since around 2:00 PM the day before, and on the grueling climb up the mountain, I thought I would pass out.  Finally, we had to stop in the shade for a sandwich around noon, before reaching the top.  Then, when we reached the spring hours later, it was full of tourists – a jeep trip had just arrived to see this beautiful hidden oasis.  I also remember the end of the day.  The trail just seemed to keep going and going.  We didn’t have enough time and we hadn’t brought enough food.  I had two cucumbers in my bag, which we consumed while climbing a huge hill at the end of a 26 kilometer day (with all the wandering).  We were absolutely shredded at the end of that hike.  After driving almost 2 hours back home, we said hello to our kids, quickly showered, and headed right back out the door for a bat mitzva.

It was a great day.

None of those minor mishaps made it into my blog post, because they just didn’t matter.  Those difficulties didn’t take away from the incredible vistas, the silence of the desert, or the beauty of the trail.

Resilience will allow you to appreciate all of the good of the great outdoors and take the bad in stride.  Developing this valuable quality requires intention and hard work.  But it’s worth it.  Resilience is the key to helping you appreciate some of the most wonderful parts of life, including outdoor adventures.

Perfection? Absolutely not. Fun? Definitely!

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