I Love It but I Hate It

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Dalene and Pete Heck

I always get very excited about heading into the mountains.

I long for the fresh air, the spectacular views, and all that jazz. I boast of being an avid hiker, and I have the expensive boots to do the job right. We’ve regularly chronicled the beautiful places we’ve tramped through, but I’ve always left out one important part to each story.

After I’ve strapped on my fancy boots, slathered on the sunscreen and properly reek of bug spray – once I find myself at the base of the mountain and look up, I remember:

I actually quite hate it.


Remind me again why I thought this was a good idea?

I groan at the burning in my legs and heart on heavy ascents, knowing that even though this pain is agonizing, the way down is going to be even worse on my knees.

My bad-bad ankle is quick to remind of an achilles tear that didn’t repair properly, and the other, my good-bad ankle, whines from a horrible sprain from years ago.

I try to keep my complaining to a minimum so as not to discourage Pete, but in certain moments, I hate the mountains, I hate him, and everything about my miserable situation.

Oh! But then I get to this amazing viewpoint, and all is good for awhile…

In certain moments, I hate the mountains.

Tatra Mountains of Poland

But then the mosquitoes find me, they somehow scope out the few square inches on my body that I missed spraying, and they have lunch. Apparently, I have quite delicious blood, as for every thirty bites I get, Pete gets one.

I scratch. And I look up, realizing how far we have to go.

I hate it again.


Wait! Love it again! Look how far we’ve come.

I made it!

You might be able to tell by the above picture, but I am a sweat-er. I have an inordinate number of sweat glands in my face (I’ve been told it is from my Ukrainian heritage – not sure of the truth to that?), but for whatever reason, I’m perpetually soggy. Not all cute and “glossy”, but disgustingly drippy. Another reason to hate.

But then, through the sweat dripping off my eyelashes, I look at this guy, who is never happier than when he’s putting miles under his boots.

Love, love, love.

Pete in his element

Pete is remarkably patient with me: he carries the extra water he knows I’ll need (another fault of being a sweat-er), stops for me often to wipe my brow, doesn’t get too far ahead although I know the competitor in him hates it when I let nuns pass us (we saw no less than nine nuns in full garb hiking in the Tatra Mountains. Those ladies can move.).

He quells my hate and pushes me on, reminding me of the love.

So that I can get to this:

This is why I love it

And this: the final reward.

The Prize

So maybe it’s not all bad. (Until the next steep incline, that is.)


Stay tuned to our next post from Pete about the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland with the working title: “Dalene’s Crazy – I Just Love It.”

Many thanks to the Poland Tourism Board for their assistance on our trip to Zakopane and this special kind of torture for me in the spectacular Tatra Mountains.
46 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • August 19 2013

    Hahaha I feel your pain. In theory, hiking is great. In practice… you know. And it’s so easy to be overambitious and think, “Yeah, a five hour hike isn’t thattt bad,” and end up dying before the two hour mark.

    And yes, that exact situation happened to me and my hiking partners (that I’d met only shortly before) ended up carrying all of the stuff and dragging me to the top. But from the pictures, you would never know that! Haha.
    Sally recently posted..Photoessay: Naksan Park Fortress Walk

    • August 21 2013

      I have gotten okay at grinning and bearing it – I try really hard to keep my complaining to a minimum – knowing that I just have to power through it. And then, at the end, I’m always pretty happy with myself. But then there are those moments I can’t keep to myself… πŸ™‚

  • We’ve only been to the Slovakia side of the Tatra Mountains, but we can tell from your pics that the Poland side is just as beautiful.

    Surprised you didn’t take on the Orla PerΔ‡ trail! (smile)

    • August 21 2013

      It pains me that we were so close to Slovakia but didn’t get there! Next time…

  • August 19 2013

    Haha – I love this – I have the exact same hiking experience!! Hate it, love it, hate it. And I’m a super sweater too…with a Ukranian grandma… I’m going to investigate that connection πŸ™‚
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Roatan Month 12 Roundup – ONE YEAR!!

    • August 21 2013

      Interesting! There might be something to that theory then!

  • August 19 2013

    La cerveza siempre hace que todo valga la pena

  • August 19 2013

    If feel your pain, but at least you always look back on it and think that it was all worth it in the end!

  • August 19 2013

    Ha! I LOVE this. You and I are two peas from the same pod. Just yesterday I whined at the steep hike in 90 degree weather after whining for weeks that I really, really wanted to do the hike. I grumble under my breath, pretty much cursing Tim at every “hurry up”. And I’m a major sweat-er too. All the Italians were passing me looking like freaking super models while my hair dripped into my eyes. Ah, the joys of hiking! πŸ˜‰
    Jennifer recently posted..Cascate del Serio: Italy’s Highest Waterfall

  • Thomas
    August 19 2013

    How can something to bad be so right! I have been there with the getting where you need to be and the task of getting there. I am usually a lot more patient then the wifey. The view and beer sure seems like it was worth it though.

    • August 21 2013

      It usually is. Or, as I say at the beginning: “This hike had better damn well be worth it!” Because if it’s not….grrr!

  • Mom
    August 19 2013

    What a delightful & charming read. That Pete is awesome. You 2 look so good & rested…can’t imagine why the climb would be so hard. haha.

    • August 21 2013

      Aw, thanks Mom! That was a particularly steep climb too. We took the cable car down, I think we should have maybe done it the other way around. πŸ™‚

  • Rob
    August 20 2013

    I absolutely love hiking. Love the sweat, the stink, the burn and most of all the feeling of accomplishment.

    Beer at the end is good, too…

    Those look like beautiful mountains. Any recommendations for towns or hiking trails there?

    • August 21 2013

      We stayed in Zakopane, and there are a lot of hikes near that town. Try this website to find all kinds of routes: http://www.discoverzakopane.com/hiking.html

      • Rob
        August 21 2013

        Thanks. Something to add to the list. The list that gets longer much faster than I can take items off of it…

  • Pratibha
    August 20 2013

    You said it. Am much the same especially since hiking is something I was introduced to after meeting my husband who grew up in the mountain region of Bavaria. It’s something I both love and hate but always miss when I am away from the mountains!

    Just back from the amazing volcanic region of Dieng Plateau in Java, Indonesia. Check it out for some good trails.

    • August 21 2013

      Definitely want to make it to Indonesia for some good volcanic hikes! Might have to wait until I REALLY miss hiking for that. πŸ™‚

  • August 20 2013

    Haha, like this, but I’ve hiked with you before and you did amazing and I didn’t even notice your sweating for what it’s worth πŸ™‚

    • August 21 2013

      It took all my strength to keep up with you that day! πŸ™‚

  • Dub
    August 20 2013

    Nice Trip! Great looking photos as well.
    Dub recently posted..Water Drinking Safety in the Back Country Giardia and Cryptosporidium

  • Liz
    August 20 2013

    I didn’t know Poland was so mountainous! I suppose it makes sense considering it’s southern border is near Slovakia. Very funny post, Dalene. Hiking seems to get harder and harder every year for me also!

    • August 21 2013

      The mountains were one of the main reasons we wanted to get to Poland! Really gorgeous.

  • August 20 2013

    Haha, great post! I have a love-hate relationship with hiking as well. The view is always worth it but the steep climbs and those damn mosquitoes will always be my mortal enemies.

    Happy travels πŸ™‚

    • August 21 2013

      Damn mosquitoes is right! They can turn even a spectacular day in the mountains to a dreadful one!

  • August 21 2013

    I feel the same! Although I am usually too lazy to even go all the way up. Cable-cars are like my favorite thing EVER.

    • August 21 2013

      We took the cable car on the way down after our day of hiking up-up-up. I think we did it backwards. πŸ™‚

  • August 21 2013

    the views were gorgeous and the shots amazing…but the beer is the best part in the end πŸ™‚

  • August 21 2013

    I have to agree with you Noel. And the Polish do beer very well!

  • Great post Dalene. The Tatra Mountains are on my list. The most exhausting hike I’ve done so far is the Inca Trail in Peru. One day we climbed 1200 metres non-stop to a pass at 4200 metres. OMG!
    But most of the time, I prefer gentle hikes. Have you ever been to Crete? Great walks there. I even wrote an article about it on my brand new website: http://bigtravelnut.com/walking-in-crete/

  • Sam
    August 23 2013

    I know exactly what that’s like Dalene! Most of the time, though, I love it. Rain and strong wind are other foes is, don’t forget!

  • August 23 2013

    I’m SO with you on this, Dalene. I also have a love-hate relationship with hiking, and I am also an unattractive sweaty type. I’ve looked a right mess lately in Italy.

    But the rewards usually ARE worth it.

    I’m actually considering booking a hiking day trip in the Cinque Terre next week. I’m sure I will regret it on the steep climbs though…
    Amanda recently posted..Amsterdam: It’s Not You, It’s Me

  • First of all, Gorgeous photos! Absolutely amazing views! Secondly, I feel your pain! I think that that there are many “avid hikers” in the world who sometimes genuinely love hiking and sometimes just love the high of getting to the top! Nonetheless, as you point out, it is always worth it in the end!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..GO GREEN TIP #100: 40 Healing Vegetables, Nature’s Medicine

  • August 25 2013

    I feel exactly the same! I hiked the Inca Trail years ago and discovered intense hiking adventures are not for me (especially when you can’t shower for 3-4 days). I alternatively cried, wondered why I did not take the train but then would suddenly find myself marvelling at the beauty of the Andes.

    On another note, I certainly never considered hiking in Poland! On the list for my next journey there. πŸ™‚

    • August 27 2013

      Yeah, I might be taking the train whenever we get back to Peru to finally see Macchu Picchu. πŸ™‚

  • August 26 2013

    Nice post and pictures, but I have to correct you on one thing–Men sweat. Women Glow.

    And your love hate relationship reminds me of what Dorothy Parker said about writing. “I hate writing. I love having written.” Sounds like you could say the same of hiking.
    Vera Marie Badertscher recently posted..How the Canadian Railroad Shaped Canada

    • August 27 2013

      Oh, I WISH I only glowed. But I’m such a sweaty mess, I’m not sure I could apply that word. πŸ™‚

  • Carmel
    August 29 2013

    I am also a major sweat-er, unfortunately. I do love hiking and pretty much all athletics, but I forget how incredibly scared I am of things like bears, cougars, etc…and how much I hate to pee outdoors. And mosquitoes because they also love my sweet, sweet blood. But yeah, it’s worth it.

    Love those hardcore nuns, too.

  • August 31 2013

    We love hiking to witness the magnificent beauty of nature. Not only refreshing but uplifting to the spirit as well. Great shots.
    Noel recently posted..Four More Tasty Servings of Singapore Bites

  • September 3 2013

    My love/ hate relationship is with overnight hiking. I really hate the camping part and carrying the heavy backpack.

    • September 3 2013

      I haven’t even done that. I know I’d hate it. πŸ™‚

  • Ali
    September 17 2013

    Dalene, I can totally relate to you on so many points here. I sweat way too much, mosquitoes find me everywhere, and I hate the physical pain of hiking. I do enjoy the views, but I’m out of shape, so I rarely even try, and I certainly can’t handle this kind of hiking. But yeah, those are gorgeous photos!
    Ali recently posted..So You Think You Want to Rent a Car

  • Dan
    October 7 2013

    Haha this is a fantastic post and awesome photos! The similarities between Jade and yourself when hiking are uncanny!!

  • Bryna
    September 18 2014

    That is exactly how I feel every time I go for a hike! Just one thing to add – the ‘WHAT DID I DO??’ thoughts the day after a long hike when you have to take the stairs… πŸ™‚

  • July 27 2015

    Hehe, you’ve just totally described me and Spanky. Its swearing all the way up with her and I know if it fails to meet expectations I’ll be in the doghouse for a while…
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..Being Back Γ’Β€Β˜homeҀ™ in Montreal after a year of Travel. Observations and reflections.

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