There is something so spiritual, so profound, about hiking a mountain. Trekking upon formations that formed over thousands of years and admiring scenery that a picture could never do justice. Little else can make you feel so small, but so in touch with the entire universe all at the same time. It’s breathtaking and inspiring and damn, does Instagram do a great job of capturing this feeling in photos.

I mean seriously. You’ve seen it. The back of a girl’s head, her impeccable ponytail glistening in the sun, as she gazes at the most perfect snowcapped mountains you have ever seen. The shirtless hunk, his facial scruff impossibly coifed as he dives into a perfectly still, bright turquoise lake that formed in crater of an extinct volcano. And of course, the couple; hued and happy as he kisses her cheek and they revel in their teamwork and accomplishment.

So of course on my recent trip out to Southern California I wanted to be out in the fresh air and sunshine, blood pumping, legs moving and ready to snap some pretty fantastic pictures for my Instagram.

Ha.

Guys, Instagram pics are the peak of the mountain and simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the hiking (and photo taking) experience. And since I know people will most likely be inspired by my photos, and I don’t want them to become discouraged when they decide they need to get out and explore the wilderness, I need to be honest about the entire experience.

Starting with the bathroom.

There’s not one. So when you’ve just hydrated yourself with a liter of water and you feel like your bladder might explode you’re going to need to find a tree or a big bush to squat yourself behind. And hey-o just a heads up for those of you planning to hike the WonderView Trail in Hollywood, California the trail might be about 1 foot wide with plummet to your death (or at the very least permanent paralyzation) drop offs on either side. Oh, and don’t forget there’s a drought so you might not really even be able to find a “private” place to relieve yourself because all the leaves and greenery are really just ash.

Yep. That was my situation on Monday morning. I had to pee. Like- tears in your eyes because you can’t remember the last time you peed yourself but today might be newest time- kind of have to pee. You better believe that I didn’t hesitate to run myself to the least steep off trail bathroom I could find and pull down my shorts. I’m gripping a branch for dear life, praying that I don’t roll down onto Hollywood Boulevard with my bare butt hanging out while continuously readjusting my position so that if I do make it out alive, I’m not hiking the rest of the way up with urine shoes. And after what feels like an eternity I’m finished… um… using the restroom… and I stand up. The flight or fight adrenaline gone, I’m trying to figure out what path I took into this brush.

“CEESSSAAARRRRRR! (my boyfriend) Get your butt over here and help me! Seriously!! Where are you? Did you hike the whole damn mountain without me because I had to pee? What the hell? Come back! UGGHHHH. OMG I’m stuck. Help!! GET OVER HERE!!”

I’m still yelling at him (but hoping it doesn’t kill the vibe on our perfect couple picture at the top of the hike later) while I come out of the brush.

He looks me up and down, “You OK?”

My legs look like a wild cat scratched me up.

Whatever, I don’t need a picture of my legs at the top to get insta-likes.

…..

We make it to the top.

“Babe, selfie!”

I look at the photo I just took of us. Why is my face so red? Dude, I’m dirty. Did I hike for 2 hours or 2 weeks. Cesar, why are you making that face… can’t you look happy to be here. Has my hair looked like this the whole time we have been hiking? Why did you let me wear this outfit?

“You know what, let me just take some yoga photos. Here hold my camera.”

Cesar: “K, got it.”

“Wait, what? I wasn’t even in the pose. Warn me before you take it. Make sure I look good. Why are you using that angle, I can already tell I’m not going to like that.”

In the middle of this, a kind grandma esque woman walks by and says to me, “Were you butt sliding, you got your shorts all dusty!!”

….Maybe I was! Maybe some parts of the hike were really steep and I understand Newton’s laws of physics and I didn’t want to gain too much momentum and start falling and not stop….

“Haha, a little bit,” I say to her. “Would you mind taking our picture?”

And she does. And she snaps a great one. We are sweaty and hot and our outfits definitely aren’t coordinated, but you know what we really do look happy and I really am proud of us for making it to the top together.

I’m not going to get a million likes on Instagram or an REI sponsorship, but I have something better. I’ve got this great experience that I shared with this great person. I have pictures in my head that no camera could ever really, truly capture. I’m sun-kissed and my muscles are tired and I’m so grateful.

Happy to be a part of this great universe. Happy that I can see the beauty in things around me. Happy I can find the humor in peeing in the bushes. Happy I have a boyfriend that will take 754 pictures of me trying to nail that perfect yoga pose. Happy to have a day off of work. Happy to be hiking.

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