The best vacation I ever had was spent doing some serious mountain climbing. Sure, I’d had the vacations on the beach — surf, sand and Pina Colada, cool breeze off the ocean, sweet sun pouring down, smile from an island girl and everything’s just fine.

But none of those were the vacation I remember. No, it was the week of the long slow tropical hike, week spent climbing up one mountain after another, sandwiches and water bottle packed in the morning, and hours slogging through a jungle thicket with room for nothing in my head but to figure out where I’m supposed to place that next foot so I won’t fall down and do some serious damage.

Hour after hour of nothing but sweat and focus, then back down the mountain for a shower that night, pass out exhausted, and get up at dawn to do it all again.

Even now, years later, I remember that as the best week of my life. After the first two days all my little city neuroses had burned away, leaving nothing but hard sweat and single purpose, simple and clean. When I was in the middle of it, I had no idea I was having a good time. But looking back now, it is one of my life’s sweetest memories.

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