…my name is Sophie, and I DO NOT LIKE CLIMBING MOUNTAINS.
Now, to you folks reading this at home, this might not seem like something that requires a confession. But friends, let me tell you, exclaiming this in South America is like confessing that you still wet yourself as an adult (and that’s only happened to me twice ok, so just get over it).
See, South America is full of bonafide mountain-climbers and trekkers. And, whilst the vast majority of these awesome people aren’t dicks, I’ve come across a fair few who are UNBELIEVABLY disgusted in the fact that I have no interest in walking up hills all the live-long day. Walking long distances is absolutely fine, but please not any kind of steep elevation. I told one tosspot that I was into hiking but not climbing mountains, and he replied in the must punchable way: “it’s not hiking if it’s not on a mountain, darling”. Well, actually, it is, hun. Hiking is defined as walking for bloody ages (or something like that). There’s no actual mention of it having to be up Everest or whatever, so simmer down, please.
An example of my mountain-plight is my recent jaunt to Machu Picchu. As a firm believer of minimal-effort, maximum-gain, I sacked off joining a multi-day hike to the modern wonder of the world, and instead signed up to the three day ‘Inca Jungle Trek’. The trip is actually supposed to be four days long, but I chose the shorter option to skip day two, which was the actual jungle trek part of the tour. Instead of hiking, I spent my days mountain biking, white water rafting, zip lining, and binge drinking in the jungle. Swinging around the stripper pole in a nightclub was pretty much the only proper cardio I got during this time, and I’m totally fine with that.
The final day of the ‘trek’ was to Machu Picchu, and my options for getting there were either to hop on a lovely comfortable bus, or walk up a super-steep incline for an hour. Seeing that I, you know, HATE MOUNTAINS, I chose the bus; along with almost half of our entire group. When I told one of the ‘walkers’ that I was planning on taking the path of least resistance and sweatiness, he said to me, “well, you won’t really have earned Machu Picchu then, will you”. Excuse me? What?
Now, I know there’s a brilliant sense of pride and achievement upon completing extreme physical challenges (I once walked 35 miles in one day, I know about physical exertion, man), but I didn’t fancy climbing almost 2,000 steps at 4.30am in the morning. That just ain’t my thing, sir.
So, do I not deserve to enjoy South America’s most brilliant sights if I don’t sweat en route? Is it cheating to just get on a bus, see said sights, then head home in air-conditioned comfort? Is 30 too young to play the age card (I’ve got bad knees, don’t you know)? The shaming of people who don’t enjoy ascending anything that doesn’t have motorised assistance is weird, and everyone who does it should stop immediately. Or else.
A confession within a confession: I was actually dreading getting to Cusco, for fear of being found out as a mountain-hater. I felt a bit ashamed to be honest: I thought I’d have to join a proper trek just to save face, and that I’d spend hundreds of pounds on a trip that I would detest throughout. But now, with the support of other non-hikers, I’m out and proud as a lowland lover. And, I would happily shout it from the mountaintops, as long as there’s a bus to get up there.