Hiking is like language learning, part 2 – Getting lost
In my last blog post, I wrote about the similarities between my hiking and language learning experiences.
There were the things that were difficult. Both present challenges that can lead to self-doubt and questions.
“Am I really up to this? Can I do it?”
“Can I be patient and steady until I see progress?”
“Do I have the perseverance that this takes?”
Both also present rewards.
My experiences have opened up new worlds.
I learn new things about myself and others.
I realize that I can do hard things and feel an intrinsic satisfaction when I do.
Today, I want to write about what happens when you get lost.
Earlier this month, I set out with three friends on a sunny Autumn day to hike 12.5 miles near the Blue Ridge Parkway. My friends were experienced hikers carrying maps and a compass. One even had a saw and clippers to do necessary trail maintenance since a big storm had taken down many trees. He had also hiked this trail before.
In no time, we had to stop and work together to clear branches so we could continue on the trail. We all felt confident about our hike. We followed the white MST-Mountains to Sea blazes painted on some of the trees.
And then the blazes stopped. We were in the Middle Prong Wilderness Area where painting on trees is not allowed.
We slowed down and consulted our map and guidebook. It was difficult to see the trail at times and we seemed to be going in the wrong direction.
Several times we saw paths that branched off from the trail. We continued walking through dense forests past rocks and downed logs covered in moss.
It was mid-afternoon when the guy with the compass said, “Wait a minute. We’re definitely headed in the wrong direction.”
We stopped to check our plan and guidebook. It was becoming clear that we were lost!
We turned around and hiked about 2 miles back to one of the connecting paths and decided to try it. The path was not well-traveled and at one point we traveled in a circle before getting our bearings.
Eventually, we began to see the white blazes again and breathed a huge sigh of relief. We were back on track.
We arrived back at the car in the late afternoon as the light turned amber and evening approached. We had completed our 12.5-mile hike and about 4 “bonus” miles.
Do you ever feel lost in your language learning? Do you ever start down one path (one way to learn) and then decide that it’s not right? Do you ever have to go back and retrace your steps? (review or relearn something) These things have happened to me as I’ve tried to learn a new language. I’d love to hear from you about your experiences.