Located just 45 minutes outside of Barcelona by train, Montserrat is one of the city’s most visited destinations. Not to be deterred by the throngs of tourists, we chose it for our inaugural Wednesday day hike. (Also 45 minutes by train, Tossa de Mar is an incredible day hike along a stretch of pristine Mediterranean coastline)
I never saw the actual funicular, but I imagined it to look something like this
credit to Wes Anderson
As we climbed, it was evident there was a good bit of history at this monastery. Being bad students, we didn’t do our homework, and as a result the history lesson fell on deaf ears.
Stairs. Montserrat is synonymous with stairs. Lots and lots of stairs.
The view from behind is breathtaking.
There were hermit houses dotting the trail. I think Montserrat was a place of pilgrimage sometime in human history. In ages past people stayed in these houses…I think.
These naturally-forming mountains resemble busty ladies, or men with funny hats…or…walruses?
We had a quick respite near the house in the hills.
Maybe I was just seeing things, but at the time, this mountain on the left looked like a meltier version of Egypt’s sphinx.
A daunting pilgrimage, someone bravely carried Dr. Hawking to the summit.
The end of the trail….or is it?
Whether or not the trail actually continued this way is unclear, but it appears they left a security rope
to hold the rocks in place for those who wanted to continue climbing.
Seriously though, why wouldn’t you want to see the view from here? Feeling confident albeit a bit jello-like in the old legs, I made my way onto the rock. With ripping winds and a natural high from the hike, I let my fears get the best of me and returned to the platform above. Deliberating for several minutes, I talked myself back up, determined to strike a tree pose out on that rock. Back down the trail chain I went. The wind came in billowing blasts. I stood motionless for minutes at a time.
In yoga (and really all athletics) you want to find a focal point to help you keep your balance. Well, in this situation, my focal point was a loooooong ways down. I had to find my focus within. I took several breaths, keeping my weight in my right leg. Just when I was ready to close my eyes and lift into position, the wind would sweep in, nearly knocking me off of my feet. My heart was racing, but I made this commitment to myself. I would find my focus and I would balance in tree.
Several more failed attempts with the wind bursting in gales. Okay I thought to myself. This wind isn’t going anywhere. And there is no dot on the ceiling to focus my gaze upon. It is just me and you nature. I have to focus internally to find my stance. A few more deep breaths. Slowly, I lift my leg. My shaky boot finds my inner thigh. I pause for a moment to breathe and I am rooted.
The wind is gusting viciously, but the hard part is over. My right leg is a tree rooted to this rock. With roots deeply established, it is time for the branches to grow. My arms reach for the sky, the wind ripping across my body.
I was able to hold my focus for only the briefest of moments before the fear of death once again washed over me. Those seconds were all I needed. I had accomplished what my mind said I could not and would not do.
Both legs back on ground, I stood proud, strong, and
a bit terrified fearless.
Even with simple things like climbing out onto a rock, it is important to always be challenging yourself. When you face adversity head on and prevail, you emerge a stronger and more confident person.
Seriously though, if this little guy can run full speed down loose terrain, then what kind of challenge was my rock really?…
Perhaps it’s best to pause a moment and be proud of my current achievement rather than look towards the next challenge.