I Love It but I Hate It

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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…

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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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… 🙂

  2. 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! 😉

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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. 🙂

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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 🙂

  8. 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!

  9. 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 🙂

  10. 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!

  11. 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…

  12. 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!

  13. 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. 🙂

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

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

  18. 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… 🙂

  19. 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)

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