Hiking in Vibrams and a bathing suit felt equivalent to hiking barefoot in a girdle. Vibrams are a pair of 5-fingered shoes designed with 5 individual slots to eat of your toes. The other students were equipped with expensive hiking boots while I heavily relied on one pair of all-purpose trekking, swimming, and running shoes.
â–º SEMI Finalist 2012 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
GLA (Global Leadership Adventures, the organization that hosted the trip) told us it was a SERVICE TRIP not WEIGHT LOSS CAMP! (I’m kidding). The rocks pierced my feet and the force of gravity weighed me down. At this point, my water bottle was half-full, everyone else came with two. My mom’s advice to “pack light” was only to avoid being charged a heavy baggage fee; it later became my setback.
As elevation increased, my hope decreased. To motivate myself, I yelled “we’re almost there” to the others; considering I was at the end of the line and had no idea how far we were from the top. Aware of my shoe problem, my counselor would periodically ask if my feet were holding up. I’d simply smile and reply, “I’m fine, thanks”, not mentioning how desperately I wanted to be air-lifted home. Why am I here? What possible significance can this provide me? The cliché that “everything happens for a reason” subconsciously settled in my brain a meaning so much bigger than what my nagging mind could interpret.
In the meanwhile, interesting conversations sparked amongst the hikers. As silly as it may seem, I was building some pretty close relationships 6,286 feet above sea level. Finally we came to a sudden halt and our guide shouted, “We made it”! I slowly turned around and witnessed the sun peak and shine its light unto the Guanacaste Region of Costa Rica. I only got a glimpse of nature’s beauty.
Relieved and happy, I congratulated everyone with a warm hug and split my chocolate bar as a reward. Oman (our guide) pointed to a white building at about 11 o’clock and guaranteed we walked all the way from that region. It was incredible to see how far we’ve come. My counselor jumped up and shouted “Now for the fun part: the climb back down!” Then I realized the worst was yet to come.
Almost every situation that I’ve experienced featured a moral. This mountain climbing experience became a metaphor for life. Sometimes, there will be events that you will face that you’ll be underequipped for; whether it is mentally or physically. In this particular situation, I wasn’t either motivated or in shape. However, I made the absolute best out of the worst scenario. Learning to positively adapt to the least enticing conditions will certainly grant a great sense of relief and accomplishment knowing that you’ve tackled the worst. Till this day, I remind myself that if I successfully climbed inactive volcano almost barefoot, anything is possible.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.