Hiking Yosemite and the Journey to Financial Freedom
Face Your Fears and Doubts: Walk with Them
This year, my husband gave me a six-day trip to Yosemite as my birthday gift. I put “Yosemite” into the search bar, hit return, then click “images.” The screen filled with tons of images of the beautiful Yosemite National Park. Now I knew where we would be going, and I liked what I saw. The trip was booked!
On the first day of the trip, we arrived at our cozy rustic cabin. As we had a loosely planned itinerary, we checked with the hotel concierge to get some advice on where we should go and what we should see first the next day. Jeff, the concierge, was friendly and knowledgeable about Yosemite, showed us photos of Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls on the map.
Since parking is very limited in Yosemite National Park and there are free buses run inside the park, the key was to find a parking spot and use the buses in Yosemite Valley. Jeff advised us that it would be ideal to get to the parking lot at Curry Village (formerly called Half Dome Village) by 8:30 AM. Then we would take bus #16 to get to Mist Trail head by 9 AM. This all sounded like a good plan for us.
Looking back, I remember that he did warn us that we would be climbing uphill. However, he was confident that we could manage the trail, saying “A lot of visitors who are older and less fit than you have made the hike; don’t worry, you will be fine.” He told us to make sure we brought enough water to keep hydrated, especially at such high elevation. He traced the trail on his map with a yellow highlighter. Then he said, “By the time you hit Clark Point, you will be cruising downhill. By half past noon, you should be back at the trailhead. Be early and beat the crowd.” We thanked Jeff, had dinner and went to bed early.
The next day, we got to the Mist Trailhead around 9:30 AM, a little late. Recalling what Jeff said, we should expect to finish our hike around 1 PM. Our start was mild, then the trail turned into steep narrow uphill tall stair steps. At my age, I walk because it is good for health and vitality. I barely walk 10,000 steps a day. At the half-hour mark, My heart was beating hard and I was out of breath. I looked at my watch and saw that my heart rate was 131. I had to stop to catch my breath.
My husband was carrying his photography gear and I had all our water in my backpack. He paced with me and checked in to see if I could continue. The few thoughts that kept coming back were, “How did I sign up for this?” “Let me check my watch, it is xx minutes from 1 PM. ” Can I really make this?” “If I can’t make it, will the rescue helicopter be here fast enough to rescue me?”
It was after 1 PM by the time we reached Clark Point. We were about halfway from the trailhead. My hips, upper thighs, back, and neck were tight and hurting. At this point, I realized that we could not turn back, because going back would be further than going downhill through the John Muir Trail. What did I get myself into?
My husband, who is a more frequent hiker because of his love of landscape photography, had to pause for me to catch my breath. It was embarrassing. I asked, “Honey, are you hurting?” He responded, “My body is being tested but not hurting yet. Take a break in the shade, have some water and enjoy the scenery. We will go at your pace, not mine. How’s your heart rate?” We repeated this 50 or 100 times.
Eventually, the trail stopped the relentless climb up and began to slope down. Jeff, the concierge, was right. The downhill portion of this hike was easier compared to the uphill portion. I did not feel I was cruising, however, I stopped fewer times to pause and catch my breath.
Just past 3 PM, we eventually got back to the trailhead. Exhausted. I wondered, how did I do it? It still seems like a miracle that I made it! My watch showed that I had walked more than 26,000 steps, over 10 miles and climbed 95 flights. It sure felt very good! I was flooded by a sense of relief and a huge sense of accomplishment.
In many ways, my experience on this hike is similar to the journey of financial independence. Here are some lessons I took from the trail that also is true of the quest for financial freedom:
It’s not about where you start, it’s where you finish. Like many others, I started this trip with a body that wasn’t in the best shape. Similarly, most people begin the journey to financial freedom without having their Money Household in order. However, if you wait until you are in shape before you start, you may never begin.
Rest but don’t quit! Doubt, fear and despair filled my mind over 100 times throughout my long hike. The quest for financial freedom also can be a long journey. Especially for those who still have a long way to go before the desired finish line, it is normal to have doubts, fears and despair that may lead you to abandon your goals because it seems so difficult. The key is to pause, take a breath, smell the roses, regroup and continue.
Find a cheerleader or guide. In order to reach your destination, you need a cheerleader who knows the way and believes you can get there – a spouse, a family member or a loved one could be in this role. However, having a guide who has taken many others through that route is helpful because they know what to expect and can help steer you away from pitfalls you otherwise might not have seen. The guide knows you must go at your pace, not theirs.
It will get easier! As Jeff said about the hike, the downhill is easier than the uphill. Starting the journey to financial freedom is often the hardest part. If you persevere through the difficult uphill climbs, there’s often a rewarding downhill that will help you keep going to reach your goals.
The destination is worth it! I never would have experienced the incredible views of the trail if I hadn’t pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Despite the sacrifices, challenges, doubts and fear, the destination of financial independence is worth it as well! Don’t forget to enjoy the scenery!
Three Steps to Begin on the Path of Financial Freedom:
1. What is your vision of your Financial Freedom Day? Write it down.
2. Define your first step (don’t overthink, just write it down). Give yourself a due date.
3. Share your goals with your cheerleader or your guide right away and ask to check in every 90 days.
Let us be your guide and cheerleader to inspire others on their quest for financial freedom by booking Alice to speak at your next event! Contact us at [email protected] for more information.
About Alice Tang
Alice Tang, ChFC® is a Financial Advisor, Speaker and Educator. As an immigrant to the United States, Alice faced the reality of starting a career from scratch, forcing herself to become self-reliant. Self- discovery became her life-calling, and she has since made a name for herself as Financial Advisor, Speaker and Mentor, led to inspire others, especially women, to be courageous, confident and successful.
“Step into your power courageously. Your deepened relationship = Your Wealth.” – Alice Tang