Ditching Expectations: A Spontaneous Nature Experience
As we ascended to the top of the mountain in a little cable car with a few others, we had no idea what we would find.
A completely unplanned outing, my friend and I simply set out for a walk that day to get some fresh air and see where the road would take us.
We had no plan but knew we were drawn to the bright green hills close by. Our hostel was already on the outskirts of Salzburg, Austria, and we grabbed some snacks at a small convenience store we came across as we made our way closer to that beautiful area in the distance.
We had been backpacking throughout Europe for a few weeks. The year was 2002, we were 20 years old, and we didn’t have anything holding us back. We were living life to its fullest. We were privileged to be able to save money for this trip, and we only had ourselves to look after.
There were no smartphones or social media. I had 10 rolls of film in my backpack, so taking photos was limited and precious. We purchased calling cards to call home or went to internet cafés to email our families.
When we initially set out that day, we thought we’d just go for a walk in the area. But when we saw a sign with a cable car picture on it, we thought, “Let’s follow that and see where it takes us!” We had no obligations, and we didn’t want to fill our day with touristy places just for the sake of seeing them.
I don’t know how long we walked, but we were feeling it in our legs. The only encouragement was coming across those signs with the cable car on them, showing us where to go.
Eventually, we were on what appeared to be the start of a highway. With a bus stop in front of us, we figured we should catch a bus the rest of the way.
The bus went a few good miles on the stretch of highway, taking us to the base of a large mountain. When we arrived, we were led to the cable car we had walked so far to find.
A few other people were aboard with us. The cable car started on its upward journey, and we looked out the windows as we were taken higher and higher. We kept going, on and on, far above the tall trees. Where were we going? When does this thing stop?
When we got to the top, there was the main trail and other small deserted-looking trails going in different directions. One man, by himself, took to a deserted trail, walking sticks in hand.
There were no railings anywhere to prevent you from going too far over the edge of the mountain. We took the main trail. I don’t know where everyone else went, but we appeared to be alone.
We looked around and at that moment realized that we were literally on top of a mountain! The air was thin, and there was snow all around us. We were warm and cold at the same time. We could see the city, a series of dots way down below, and the green extending beyond as far as the eye could see. We took pictures in the snow, our sandalled feet cold and wet.
Everything was raw and pure. We let ourselves relax and just be in the moment. We watched a small group of birds hover in the air. We didn’t know how they did it, as we barely felt any breeze. This place was like its own world.
It was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in nature. To this day, I don’t know what that mountain was called or what the elevation was. But I think that’s why it was so special. It was unplanned and spontaneous, which meant there were zero expectations.
That experience from 20 years ago is an important reminder that we need to forego or lessen our expectations. Having unrealistic expectations of what things should be like, or how we should feel in different situations, will only set us up for disappointment and will rob us of any joy we could be experiencing.
I have reached the top of many other “mountains” in my life since that time, and what stands out to me for all of those are experiencing them fully. Ditching the expectations and having a spontaneous adventure!