This morning I was up on time as I planned to hike up the Montgó mountain. Él Montgó is the last spur (apparently, in geological terminology) on the Cordillera Prebética Mountain Range in the Alicante Province of Spain. The mountain rises 750 meters above sea level and, as I would discover, offers a stunning view of all the preceding spurs in the range as well as the city of Dénia and surroundings.

When I arrived in Dénia almost a week ago, I caught a glimpse of the mountain from the highway, and in my minds eye, I saw the face of a great lion turning to face me. In that moment, there arose in me a sense of wanting to meet this ‘lion’ of a mountain. I am no great climber and Él Montgó is quite an average mountain, however I was keenly aware of a simple fact: in my entire life, this was most probably the first time I had been self-inspired to hike up a mountain (or any trail for that matter). This time, I was not simply following someone else’s idea of what to do. No, this was 100% my plan and responsibility. And that felt surprisingly good! So, you might say it wasn’t about the quantity of the steps I was taking but rather the quality.

The 3.8 kilometer path to the top of the mountain is well marked and maintained. I was happy to be wearing my new walking shoes as the stones in the path are many and sharp. On average, the hike up takes about 2 hours, but I managed it quite easily in 1.5. The last 500 meters of the climb become a little more challenging as the path rises quite steeply along the rocks, but still very manageable for most hikers.

When I reached the top, there were a few other hikers already there. Four men talking and laughing, or on their cell phones telling other people where they were. Others were busy making a selfy at the summit post, or trig point. An older man pulled a drone out of his backpack, and for the complete hour that I was at the summit, he was staring mostly at the little screen on his controller. I strolled a short distance from the summit, where I could get a clearer view of Dénia, and found a nice spot to sit. The sun was warm with only a slight breeze. I celebrated my small achievement by smoking my last cigar while reading out of a favourite book. And I literally felt as if I was on top of the world.

For the decent, I decided I would try to find a more direct route, thereby skipping a large section of switchbacks. The child in me wanted to come out and play just like he did when climbing the large granite formations in Nigeria. I possess a great sense of balance and an almost intuitive sense of where to place my feet. Sometimes I think I am part billygoat. At the same time, the risk of slipping and falling is very real which raises my levels of adrenaline and makes me more alert. Forging a path where there is none (and not getting caught while doing it) also adds to a heightened sense of accomplishment.

As I climbed back onto my motorcycle to return home, I felt a sense of calm inside…and an invitation to continue in this mode of (self)exploration.