Recently, I went on a weekend hiking trip at the Grand Canyon with a small group of people and someone who very special to me. For many of us, it was our first hike to this particular campsite and we knew it would be a challenge. To get to the campsite and back, we had to hike 10-12 miles each way for a total of 20-24 miles. Additional hikes away from the campsite were 5-10 miles each way. It was a weekend full of walking.
Hiking can be an intensive endeavor. As we walked through the canyon, much of the terrain consisted of sand or slippery rocks, and we often had to climb up or down in high altitudes while trying to maintain steadiness and endurance. The views, however, were breathtaking. The Grand Canyon is painfully beautiful.
As a relationship coach, I noticed that a lot of important lessons about relationships might be learned on a hiking trip. If you are dating someone, trying to see if the relationship can go the distance, you might want to consider taking a hiking trip together. This could serve to determine your level of compatibility.
There were the three specific lessons I learned on my trip which are crucial for maintaining a successful relationship: establishing good communication, participating in teamwork, and learning to compromise.
On my hike, the men who were good communicators made sure our backpacks had the necessities we needed to survive and communicated to us why this was important. These men constantly checked on the women to make sure they were ok. They provided reinforcement when we were doing well which kept us motivated. The men who had made the hike before warned us about the treacherous areas and showed us how to utilize water and supplements to maintain endurance. They took the lead to make sure we stayed on track and refused to leave us behind. These men communicated clearly and in a helpful manner from the beginning until the end of the hike.
Being in a relationship is like being on a team. If you are looking for a mate, make sure they are a team player. This is also true if you are on a hike.
On the hike to the campsite, one young woman was struggling with her backpack. The load was too heavy because she had listened to friends’ suggestions and ended up bringing too much. A few men hiking into the same campsite noticed her difficulties. They offered to exchange backpacks with her so that she could carry a lighter bag. What men! Can you say teamwork? Yes! These guys were strangers and did not have to step up to the plate, but they did. That’s teamwork, doing something for the greater good.
At the campsite, we had to set up our tents, organize our food, and make sure we were prepared for additional hikes throughout the weekend. As we erected the tents, the men who were natural team players assisted the women. They made sure our tents were located in places that would give us access to restrooms and clean water. They also shared their food, helping us to eat well so we had sustained energy.
When you are in a relationship, you are on a team. You need to support one another and be there for one another—in both good times and bad. Being on a team can be difficult because if one person suffers, it impacts the whole team. But this also contributes to building a stronger team.
Compromise is important in hiking and in relationships. When I packed my bag before the trip, I wanted to tuck in some lipstick, a couple extra changes of clothes, just a few items I thought I would want to have with me while I was out in nature. But I had to compromise: I couldn’t take what I wanted, only what I needed. A friend helped me realize that, on a hike, less is more. He promised I would thank him for taking less once we were trekking through the Grand Canyon. He was right.
So yes, the ‘C word’ is important when you are hiking. And in relationships. In fact, compromise is part of the natural trajectory of relationships. Show me a relationship without compromise and I will show you one where the people are resentful, angry, and/or disengaged. On the other hand, if you look at a successful relationship, you will see compromises being made all the time by both parties.
After hiking 30 miles and camping overnight in the Grand Canyon, I came home with many good memories and life lessons. Hiking is a great way to connect and reconnect with others as well as with the natural world. It forces you to use your communication and social skills because you have to disconnect from social media and other such distractions. Hiking also improves your ability to communicate, team with your partner, and compromise in ways that help to build stronger and healthier relationships.
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