These Boots Aren’t Made for Hiking

Katie Minor
February 24, 2017

Well more accurately, regular tennis shoes are definitely not made for hiking! Let me explain what happened. About two weeks ago all of the IES Abroad students, RM’s, and my Chinese teacher embarked on an adventure to Yunnan, which meant we were heading towards warmer weather, would see a greener landscape, and of course do a lot of walking and hiking!

Now, no one really knew this before the trip, but I have a history of being known as the world’s worst hiker. On every hike I’ve ever been on, I was always the last person up the mountain and the one who needed to take the most breaks. I credit my out of shape body to my high metabolism and my utter lack of desire to exercise outside of walking to and from class. I often pay the price for my decision to not exercise, especially when hiking. I explained to everyone beforehand how I am the world's slowest hiker, but everyone assured me that it wasn’t a race to the top.

In Yunnan, two days were dedicated to hiking. One day we hiked to a village in the mountains and the other day we hiked up a mountain to pick tealeaves. We had the option of hiking to see the coffee trees the same day as we would hike to pick tealeaves, but I told myself one hike per day was all that I could handle. Out of the two hikes I did, I felt that the first one was the steepest (although they were both challenging in my opinion). Even though the first hike was a challenge, hands down that hike was my favorite.

I can remember going up the rice paddies to the village like it was yesterday when in fact it was 12 days ago. On that day, we were all afraid we couldn’t hike as it was cloudy in the morning. However, it was as if a miracle happened as the fog had completely lifted by that afternoon! The tour guide had warned us that the trail was bound to be muddy, really steep, and that it should only take us 30 minutes to get to the village.

By this point, I was determined to start off on the right foot. For about the first ten minutes, I was ahead of the group- something that has never happened before. I was bounding up the mountain like a true mountain climber! I was so proud of myself, and I didn’t even need a break! Things were going swimmingly until I stopped for a second and saw that the trail up ahead was so steep it looked as if it went straight up! “Is it too late to turn back?” I thought to myself as I helplessly watched almost all of my classmates eagerly began to continue to climb up the path.

It took an army of people to get me up to the village and back down again in one piece. Two girls who had helped me before took turns holding my hand and my arm so I wouldn’t fall. After a while, my RM took up the responsibility of tugging me up the mountain. In the middle of the path, we had to go across a waterfall- one of most terrifying feats of the hike. I had to step on certain rocks to get to the other side so I wouldn’t fall down or slip off the rocks and go into the water. All in all, it is important to have good balance and people who are willing to help you!

One of my favorite moments was coming down. If given a choice, I would definitely want to go up instead of down even though gravity makes going down much easier. I was struggling so much coming down that a Hani woman from the village grabbed my hand tightly and helped get me down. So there I was- going down the mountain holding my RM’s hand and a woman's hand who didn’t even know us! She seemed so confident and sure that we would all get down safely. Even though she didn’t speak Mandarin, she pointed at the places where I should put my feet and didn’t let go until we were safely at the bottom. The amazing thing was that even though we didn't speak the same language and were obviously foreigners, there was a universal human understanding to help each other. I am very thankful to have people who were willing to lend me a hand, both literally and figuratively, despite our differences.

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Katie Minor

<p>Hey everyone! I&rsquo;m a junior and I currently attend Trinity University, a small school in San Antonio, Texas. I consider myself a sociologist in training, and I&rsquo;m interested in learning and experiencing new cultures! This blog depicts my experiences in China, specifically Beijing, China&rsquo;s capital city, a long way from home! Hope you enjoy and feel free to comment!</p>

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