The Systems Thinker - Center for Family Consultation's blog

Mountains are Bigger than Me

Authored by Cecilia Guzman

This past summer my husband and I and two other couples hiked the Inca trail to see the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. We talked about it and planned it thoroughly and I started my physical training 5 months before we departed. The hiking portion of our trip consisted of a 4 day, 3 night journey through the Andes Mountains reaching a height of almost 14,000 feet. The adventure outfitters provided a local guide and 12 native Inca porters who each carried 50 lbs. of our gear. We were required to carry our day pack and daily water that weighed approximately 10 lbs. Not only did these men carry five times more weight than we did but they also wore either leather sandals or cheap gym shoes. Certainly, not the high tech boots from REI we wore. I became painfully aware of my privileged status and my utter dependence on them for survival.


photo 1

Here we all are getting ready to begin another day of hiking.


But it was glorious! It was an epic adventure! It was astoundingly beautiful. It almost killed me– or at least that’s how it felt. The mountains brought me to my knees and I was humbled beyond measure.


photo 2

This is Mount Veronica. She’s quite beautiful.


I, like most Americans, value “independence”, “autonomy”, “self-sufficiency”. Although these are necessary elements of a well-balanced person, the reality of being a human is that we cannot survive alone. We stand no chance alone. If it wasn’t for the love of my husband, the support of my dear friends and the extraordinary kindness of strangers, I would not have been able to complete my journey.


photo 3

Here’s the gang minus my husband who is taking the photo.


Hiking the Inca trail brought to light the truth of my/our interdependence with other human beings and the Earth. What a bunch of hubris this belief I held that if necessary I can survive alone. Ha ha… How disconnected I had become from the sheer power, beauty and wisdom of Mother Earth. How tiny and vulnerable I felt in the face of this truth, and how liberating it felt when this truth was finally understood and embraced.


As a result of my adventure I’ve learned that the most effective method for getting to the heart of the matter is by stretching your comfort zone and becoming uncomfortable. The truth reveals itself, painful as that can be, and the ignorance of a particular belief is wiped away. We are a species that often denies our very nature. We are a eusocial species– very complicated, altruistic, aggressive and interdependent with all life. And I can’t wait for my next adventure!


photo 4

We came. We saw. We Picchued! The sun gate above Macho Picchu.


pic_cguzmanCecilia Guzman


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1 Comment on "Mountains are Bigger than Me"

  • Kelly Matthews-Pluta says

    Maybe the grand “ness” of nature is what we need to shake us from our top of the food chain certainty. Thanks Cecilia, for the wondrous pictures and tale.

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