We all hear the call for travel.
There is something tugging at our hearts, a longing for far-away places and distant lands, a desire to see more than just what is in front of our eyes, day in, day out. The call comes from many different places; it comes from bustling cities,
It calls until we crumble under the pressure, we succumb, we throw our necessities in a little, dusty backpack and step onto the next train. We fly away and leave normality behind, and we don’t look back, at least not for a while. In this moment, we all feel it: The strings that were pulling so hard on our hearts loosen.
In this tumultuous mess of wishfulness, there is one cord that is wrapped around my soul harder than any other, one that has me travelling the globe only to finally feel it giving in, happy, fulfilled. It is the mountains of this earth that have me catching flight after flight, tying my boots, and setting off to climb higher, higher, higher.
When I answer the call for travel, I follow mountains.
It started off innocently – I looked for summits that I knew best. The Austrian Alps,
I read up on my favorite mountain climbers, finding out how Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (the first woman to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders without the use of supplementary oxygen) trained herself by sleeping with her windows wide open even in the coldest of winters, letting the falling snow slowly cover her bed, to become accustomed to the conditions waiting for her outdoors; I started googling the highest peaks of the world, took notes on how and when best to summit Mont Blanc; spent hours bent over maps of the world’s mountains. I filled my heart and brain with summits that at night, my unconscious mind would be busy dreaming about.
Even though my home is Austria, back then I lived in Dijon,
Hiking in the middle of France’s vineyards near Dijon, France.
Whenever I had time off from university, I hiked: My college roommate and I walked from town to town in beautiful
Hiking from town to town in Cinque Terre, Italy.
The summer that followed was spent chasing mountain tops. I visited Georgia (the one in the Caucasus, not the one in the U.S.) and matched my itinerary to my growing wish to see, feel, and experience the immense mountains that are, to me, the very essence of Georgia’s beauty. Together with my travel buddy, we drove up to Kazbegi and marveled at Mount Kazbek, we explored the peaks and abandoned mountains towns in Svaneti, and listened in awe as we met travellers who had just returned from a two-week adventure in one of the most remote and barely accessible regions of the country, Tusheti. They had travelled to the region on foot – I was swooning.
Hiking the Caucasus.
Back home in Austria, I followed suit and went on my first ever long-distance hike. Together with my best friend, we packed the bare minimum of clothing, a tent, and our best hiking shoes, and took off. I still remember the two weeks that followed fondly – they taught me that adventure can start right at your doorstep. We literally began walking right where we lived, where we grew up – and headed in the general direction of
A year and many hikes later, I was faced with a decision: I had to choose a destination for a stay abroad, one university year studying and living in yet another foreign country. I did what I always do: I followed the mountains. My country of choice was
It was pure joy.
Hiking the Himalaya in Kyrgyzstan.
I went back home, happy and satisfied, richer in experience and better versed in outdoor sports. Now, half a year later, my life revolves around mountains more than ever. I use every second to go hiking – the free moments, the days off, the weekends, every chance I get. When I am not in the mountains, I read about them, I
It is in these short moments of fulfilment that I almost forget what it feels like to have something tugging at your heart so strongly, you cannot resist its pull. I say almost, because just as clear as we all hear the call for adventure in our minds and souls, we also know, with unquestionable certainty, that this longing can never be satisfied for long.
I follow mountains, and always will.
What about you?