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What you can learn from hiking El Yunque (photos included!)

On Sunday, I rented a car and drove an hour to hike El Yunque.

What the hell is El Yunque? El Yunque is a 29,000 acre forest in Puerto Rico and the only tropical rain forest in the United States. It has a wonderful hike to the peak.

I’m a fiend for:

  • Rain forests
  • Hikes
  • Climbing tall things
  • Nature

So when you put all of those together and tell me I can do a 1500ft hike to the peak of El Yunque, I am ecstatic.

Here’s what the view was like from where I parked my car.

Entering the ‘Palo Colorado’ recreation area at the start of the hike

Starting the path

Finding a small, fenced off area off to the side of the path

(I naturally jumped over the railing and spent 10 minutes exploring. A childhood spent playing RPGs has taught me that obviously there must be a treasure chest or sweet armor back there. There wasn’t).

But there was an old building that I skipped exploring in favor of continuing the hike.

Up the trail

Until I come to a little bridge over a waterfall

And to my left as I cross the bridge? A very amazing looking stream!

Which I immediately decide to take a quick stroll along, stepping from rock to rock until I hear The Noise.


I split my shorts from completely. We’re talking from the end of one leg, up to the crotch, and then through the ass.

Complete destruction.

At this point, I’m literally halfway up a creek with a pair of pants rapidly disintegrating around me. I have two options:

  1. Hike back, get in the car, drive home, try another day
  2. YOLO. Let’s hike.


I built a little standing rock sculpture on a large rock in the stream

And snapped a selfie to capture the moment

And hiked my way to the top.

I hiked.

And hiked.

And hiked.

And hiked.

And then I made it.

The clouds had rolled in. No worries. It was beautiful seeing the ocean of white stretching out in front of me. Absolutely gorgeous.

A short hike later and I reached the true peak, a small fort/castle/church/what-have-you

(I think it looks a lot like the end-of-level castle in the original Mario)

And then I hiked down in a rainstorm in the rainforest! Easily one of the Top 20 experiences of my life. It was amazing.

And on the way down, I passed by “Baño Grande,” a swimming hole and bath house that was built a few decades ago.

What’s the lesson in today’s story?

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. And that doesn’t have to be a reason to stop.

  • My shorts literally ripped in half. I had the choice of going home or continuing on the hike.
  • It started POURING rain as I hiked down. I had the choice of taking a shortcut (30-minutes) or doing the full hike (90-minutes) in the rain.

In each case, I adopted a mindset of ‘This is the way it is and I’m going to take joy in it.’

My shorts ripped. So what? I’ve thrown them away and now get to buy a new pair of shorts.

It started raining halfway through my hike. So what? I now have the experience and story to share of hiking in a rainforest while it rained.

Both were experiences that could have easily been framed as negative (“My shorts ripped, screw this, I’m going home.”) but I decided to try and see the opportunity in the experience.

Likewise, when freelancing, you can have the same experience:

  • Client doesn’t end up agreeing to the proposal? Okay, now you have time to focus on other prospects (or generating other prospects).
  • Project is taking longer than expected? Okay, now you have an opportunity to learn how to better estimate this type of project.

I’m reading “The Art of Living” by Epictetus and there’s a quote that I think is very relevant:

Things themselves don’t hurt or hinder us. Nor do other people. How we view these things is another matter. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble.

An experience can easily feel like it’s pushing you off balance or ruining an opportunity or a situation. But it’s how you view that experience, the attitude and reaction that you have, that shapes how you feel about the experience.




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