Hiking Done Right

While the people tend to have a pretty negative, or neutral, affect, that is not consistent in all conditions. It seems that when interacting with them in a personal way, they can have a bright smile and, despite the language barrier, convey happiness and content. Our night spent in the guest houses was easily one of the best we have had since we arrived here in Ukraine. The hosts were incredibly friendly and helpful, and the food, oooohhhh, the food. Full spreads with soups and desserts at both houses, and I don’t think anyone went away less than full or without a smile on their face.,

I slept incredibly well that night, and I was glad for it on our hike the next morning! We woke, had breakfast (mentioned that in the last post, and wow was I right that I needed to go — it was sooo good.), and got ready to go on our hike. Our guide, Eric, had told us we were planning on taking an off-road van up the mountain most of the way. We were all a little skeptical, but we had no reason to be. That morning when we walked outside to the full size military truck with an enclosed bed that had benches in the back, we knew it was going to be a gnarly trip. This thing could not have gotten more than 4 miles per gallon, but it took us up that mountain without a second thought. As a result of that chariot of wonder whisking us up the mountain, our 7–8 hour hike turned into 2 hour hike, plus the inevitable photo shoot that will take place when 9 females are present (truth be told, the guys had a lot of fun with it too).

We all made it to one peak, but Liz and I decided to run to the next. This turned into a barely controlled run down one peak, and a strong struggle up the second peak, but the views were well worth the effort and potential of falling on our faces as we ran down the hill. The mountains here are so green. From east to west, the panorama is gorgeously picturesque, with trees broken up by the occasional meadow that typically accompanies a seasonal home hidden away in the rolling hills of the Trans Carpathian Mountain Range.

Once we got back to the rest of the group on the first peak, we joined the picture shenanigans, and then made our way back down the mountain. On a bit of a side note, the people on this trip are incredibly diverse, but in almost every conversation I have with them I am eager to know more about their life. Specifically, I am eager to hear their take on life from a Buddhist, Taoist, or agnostic/atheististic worldview. Once we returned to our mighty Off Road Van (ORV), we headed down the mountain a ways and stopped for lunch. We had salo, which is essentially bacon fat, roasted over the fire, and soaked up by bread. It was incredible. A man’s dream, and the Ukrainian people claim that it is heart health — so we we are gonna go with that.

After lunch we finished our trip down the mountain, got in our little, regular van, and took off down the road to our hotel for the night. The driver of our van moves. He has a lead foot, and no fear, that in combination with the stellar roads (no, that was sarcasm, they suck) meant it was quite the drive, and my back was very happy to arrive at the hotel. We got settled and ate dinner with everyone, then went our separate ways for the night. Krisztina was giddy all night because she was able to see her family and nephew, and the joy in her and her family’s eyes when they see each other is something of wonder that is more beautiful than my picture on the bridge.

I finished the night talking with a small group in the lobby of the hotel, and again, the various backgrounds and beliefs were plain to see, and I enjoyed listening to everyone’s point of view on dating and relationships. I am coming to see and understand that this summer will push me in many ways, and I am so excited to grow, even if it takes some wrestling with my previously held beliefs.

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