Nature is good for you. There was a study done that found that being out in nature enhances your sense. Within a few hours of being out in the natural world, your senses begin to sharpen. Your nose finds smells that weren’t there before. Your eyes pick up subtle movements in the trees. You hear distant sounds and echoes and appreciating the musical trickle of a stream.
This same study suggests that everyone should spend 5 hours a week in nature. This Easter weekend I was fortunate enough to spend almost 90 hours doing just that.
We hiked some parts of the Blyde River Canyon; the 3rd largest Canyon in the world. We saw incredible waterfalls, magical forests, a vine snake, and a handful of hippos. We met like-minded people and shared many laughs with them as we slid down rapids, swung on vines and helped each other traverse some tricky territory. However, that wasn’t the best part.
The most important parts of this trip were the lessons that I took away from the experience. I will take this insight and apply them to other areas of my life. But before I do, I’ll share them with you.
I didn’t know Kevin Ruthven before this weekend. He’s a mountain man in every sense of the word. During the week he plans and maps out hiking trails for the MTPA. Over the weekend he takes groups of intrepid people out hiking. When he isn’t doing that he’s trail running or eloquently communicating the value behind ecological sustainability.
Best of all, Kevin knows things that we don’t. While hiking the trails of the Forever Blyde Canyon Resort, Kevin led us across five different hiking trails. Why? So that we could see the most beautiful parts of each trail without spending the hours we would need to travel each trail.
Having a mentor or a guide can save you years of time.
With 4 years of experience on these trails, Kevin has formed a network of connections. This allowed him to take us into places that weren’t open to the public and see things that the average person doesn’t even know exists.
When you have a mentor or a guide, you see the beauty in the world, so much sooner than anyone else.
During an afternoon trip to the Potluck Boskombuis, Kevin arranged the chance of a lifetime for us – an opportunity to see a private waterfall. After Kevin spoke to the warm owner of this property, we followed him to his private piece of heaven. Whitewater churned and slipped over the wet stone walls, falling and thundering to a drop far below us, sending a fine spray into the air. We watched the sun set from this idyllic spot, thanking the owner profusely.
When you have a guide or a mentor, it’s easy to be lucky. It’s even easier to be in the right place at the right time.
The first day of our hike was a clear day, filled with sunshine and then the night was followed by a full moon in a clear night sky. The second day kicked off with a gloomy overcast sky. We started walking. A fine drizzle washed over us. Within minutes the drizzle became rain.
“This isn’t how I want to spend my day,” I said to one of my friends.
However, within a few minutes it had stopped raining. We hiked through some of the most picturesque places in the world. Clear streams with water washing over moss covered rocks. Valleys where you’d be sure to find fairies. Finally, we rested at a waterfall. Here we watched our friends climb to the top of the falls and jump into the cool, deep waters below. The day may have started off looking dismal, but it ended warm and humid in canyon’s valley.
No matter how bad things may look at the start, never think you know the ending.
We joined this hike knowing only the people that we arrived with. Yes, there were age gaps. Yes, we spoke different languages. Yes, we all had different lifestyles. But there was one thing that brought us all together – our love of the outdoors and hiking.
With each passing day the conversation became richer, warmer and more honest. We shared our stories, our ideas and our passions. By the end of the trip we had made new friends and seen different perspectives on the world.
Common interests create families out of friends.
We were ready for our first hike of the trip. We had parked our cars, fastened our shoelaces and adjusted our hats. Kevin asked us to form a circle so that he could speak to us.
“I only have one rule,” he said. “Whatever you take with you, you bring back.”
He went on to stress the importance of supporting the environment. Everything he mentioned after this was just a series of guidelines. However, everything he mentioned set the context for the rest of the day. It was the best way to start a hike and keep everyone on the same page.
When you set rules or agreements, people know what you stand for.
There’s nothing better than looking back at a weekend and thinking, I wish I was back there. Life lessons are everywhere. Whether you learn them while you’re surfing channels on your tv or watching your friend’s feet hurtling towards you as he tarzan-swings on a tree vine. Life is full of insights that you can transfer to other areas of your life.
Your learnings are the only currency you’ll take with you at the end of your life.
If you’re keen to give hiking a try, I seriously recommend connecting with Kevin on Facebook, by clicking here.
p.s. Thank you to all the hikers for these amazing photo contributions!
Until next time.
© The Brilliance Quotient 2018