I’ve heard it before. I’ve said it before. I say it to my kids all the time: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” In other words, stop asking when we’ll get there. In other words, just enjoy the ride. In other words, look around. Isn’t the world beautiful?

And you know, I typically buy into that hippy shit. I really do. The journey is awesome.

But sometimes, you’re really excited about the destination. Like, let’s say it’s a high elevation lake, deep in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest trailhead and even further from the nearest paved road. I mean a real backcountry gem kind of a lake that nobody ever goes to because it’s so far removed from the world. The kind of lake/destination that you’re psyched to check out in first person. And sometimes, the journey to that lake is kind of crappy.

Like, several miles of unmaintained gravel road that just climbs relentlessly through stinging nettles and mud pits. And let’s say it’s really hot and steamy and you’re sweating as you’re grinding up the steep gravel, getting almost 4,000 feet of climbing under your tires and losing maybe 7 pounds of water weight before you reach that remote lake. And the whole time, you’re dreaming about jumping in the lake. You know that every pedal stroke is delivering you closer to a cool swim.

And then let’s say you get to the destination, the edge of this beautiful remote lake high up in the alpine, and let’s say that lake is f*cking empty. Drained. Mud, with a little trickle of a stream running through the center. All that effort, all of that time, dreaming about jumping in this lake, and there is no lake.

What then?

Then you laugh. Crack the beer that you tucked into the bottom of your pack, sit on the edge of the non-existent lake and laugh. And when the destination disappoints and the journey kind of sucks, all you can do is revel in that suckiness. Focus on how hard the climb actually was. How hot, how muddy. Really wallow in the details of the suckiness and come out the other end and realize that yeah, it really isn’t about the destination. It’s about that damn journey after all.