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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

Strangely similar

You wake up early, throw all of your stuff in a bag, and drive to the venue. You eat breakfast, then rig your boat. You go out to the race course and wait for the start, prepping. You race race after race after race, eat a soggy lunch in your rocky boat, and then you keep racing, never sure when the day will be done. Just sometime before sunset. Your abs hurt, your legs are sore, you´re soaking wet and sticky with salt water. You´re always too hot or too cold, no matter what gear you wear. You finally sail to shore and when all you want to do is crash in a bed you de-rig your boat and pack everything up. Showering is the most amazing thing, and you go to bed early, setting your alarm to get up early and do it all over again.

You wake up early, throw all of your stuff in a bag, and take down your tent. You cook breakfast, eat, and pack a lunch to go. You start walking, mile after mile, never ending. You take a break to eat a soggy lunch. You keep going, knowing you must get to camp before sunset. Your legs and back are sore, and you´re sweaty and dirty. No matter what gear you wear you´re always too hot or too cold. You finally get to camp and set up and cook, even though all you want to do is curl up in your tent and sleep. You finally go to bed, 8 o´clock feels too late, and you set your alarm to get up early and do it all over again.

I never would have considered myself an experienced trekker, considering I had never been trekking before this trip, but the long trekking days felt eerily familiar to me. One day, as I was climbing what felt like the steepest mountain in the world, I realized that I had been through something like this before. Sailing. As I climbed the mountain, I realized it was far more effective to zig zag up it, rather than try to go straight up. Much like one must zig zag into the wind, rather than sitting in irons. I made it a game, every black patch of rock was a gust of wind, and I would turn (¨tack¨) when I got to it. Doing this kept me motivated and when I got to the top, able to think again, I realized that there were quite a few similarities between trekking and the sport that I dedicated the preceding 8 years to. The day is hard, waking up to do it again the next day is harder. But the reward is greater than all of it. At the end of a sailing regatta, you feel that you gave it your all, that you could not possibly sail another day, and you have a great Type II fun experience to share. Similarly, after the trek in the Cordillera Real, I felt that I put my best foot forward (literally), and it felt amazing to have completed such a feat. I feel more confident and in shape than I have in a while, and it´s a great story to tell.