At the beginning of every new hiking trip my thoughts and feelings are equal.

A part of me is excited because I know that ahead of me, something new is to be discovered. At the least, I’m in for a long breath of fresh air, picturesque scenery, a nice conversation or two, and some good food.

However much I enjoy hiking as a physical activity, there’s one more thing that often crosses my mind during these trips — wanting to quit.

Though I am aware of the health benefits, conscious of the positive energy it will produce, impatient for that warm lunch at the mountaintop – I also know that the next few hours will give me room for lots of contemplation. Being alone with your thoughts — it’s kind of scary. Essentially, it’s something that we often want to avoid, simply because it’s easier that way.

So last Sunday, as I was walking through the snowy hills around Samobor to Japetić with two friends and a dog, I got a chance to think things through…

However much we plan, organize, anticipate — certain things in life are inevitable and we will never be prepared for them, no matter what. It makes no sense to worry about them because they’ll turn out different anyway, and chances are, most of them won’t even happen.

The worst way to live life is waiting for the finish line. During many of those little moments that make up the trail — I realize that I am elsewhere, not enjoying the moment.

It’s OK to be silent when you have nothing to say. Hiking is the best way to clear out the chaotic thoughts, doubts, questions, and uncertainties. It’s also the perfect opportunity to swap each and every negative perspective with a positive one. It even comes naturally.

Being extremely frightened of wild animals in the middle of a forest is completely rational – until you overcome your emotions and realize that bears are currently hibernating…

Expectation is the root of dissatisfaction.

And so there we were, we arrived at the top, where I expected things to look a bit different. I expected there to be fewer people, I expected a different menu, I expected to be hungrier, more exhausted, less talkative, a bit anxious – but I was calm. I was peaceful. The lodge was full, the restaurant was packed, everything was crowded and wet from the snow, but released from the burden of expectations – I was completely content. The people around us were cheerful, it was one of those *Croatia – Full of Life* moments.

a few fun facts:

– Nature Park Žumberak and Samobor’s surrounding hills cover about 333 km2 of land

– there are 10 Mountaineer’s lodges/cabins, and a number of weekend resorts and cottages where you can stay within the entire park

– besides hiking, this Nature Park is a popular destination for activities such as cycling, horseback riding, climbing, paragliding, and educational programs

Not expecting will free you to enjoy all those little experiences that make up life. Let your trail lead you – planned or spontaneously – to the present.

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