What I learned about life by climbing Gros Morne Mountain

Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 19 September 2017

As many of you already know, I decided to take a month off this summer. If you missed this article you can still read it here: Why I’m taking a month off

Part of this break from my workaholic tendencies was a trip to NewFoundland. It was a province I have never been to and a place that I felt safe travelling by myself.

While in NewFoundland I spend 3 days in Gros Morne National Park. One of the big highlights of visiting Gros Morne for many travellers is climbing the mountain. When I arrived at the information centre the pleasant young female attendant asked me if I was planning on climbing the mountain. I remember saying, “I’m not sure” so she gave me the brochure to help me make my decision.

I remember reading the brochure and thinking I’m not sure if I’m prepared for this. I haven’t been “training”, I don’t have any special hiking equipment (although I did have good trail/hiking shoes), I didn’t have a proper water bottle and I was starting to develop a tiny blister on one of my toes. I almost chickened out.

(If you look at this pic of the mountain I would be climbing up the crevice on the right side to reach to the top.)

This reminded of what happens to a lot of people when they face any big challenge in their life. Whether it’s leaving a job they hate, changing their diet, or having a baby.

They start to second guess their own ability.

So begins the lesson:


Lesson #1 - You are capable of amazing things and the biggest (and sometimes the only) thing getting in your way is your own self-doubt.

If I listened to my own self-doubt I never would have attempted this hike. Instead I decided to go ahead and see how I felt. Once you hike in 4km you reach what they call the "decision point". I decided to hike to the decision point and then I would, yes decide, what I would do from there.

This is me at the beginning of the trail, 8 am sharp!

Sometimes if you just get started it will be easier than you thought.


Lesson #2 - Encouragement from your friends can go a long way because they often have more faith in your abilities than you do.

I had been posting some of my pics of my trip on my Facebook page so my friends knew I was in Gros Morne. When I asked if I should attempt this hike, none of them doubted my ability to do so. One even wrote, "If I can do it, you can do it."

This reminds me that we need people around us to support us when we are attempting a big challenge. Don't be afraid to ask for help or encouragement.


Lesson #3 - Just when you are almost at the top is when you are going to be the most fatigued, feel like it's never going to end, and be most likely to quit or lose a lot of momentum.

I remember the closer I got to the top the slower I began to walk and the more stops I started to take. I kept reminding myself just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will make it.

That's all we need to do to accomplish something big in life as well. Just keep making forward progress, no matter how small the steps or how slow you go.


Lesson #4 - Once you are at the top you understand why doing the hard work is worth it.

One of the best feelings in the world is a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately in today's society everything is more convenient and we start to expect the same feeling with minimal effort. Then when we don't get that feeling, we don't feel good about ourselves, and wonder what is wrong. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and do the hard stuff...it is always worth it!


Lesson #5 - The view on the other side will be more beautiful than you ever imagined.

If you never climb that mountain, whatever that mountain is in your life, you will never get to see what is on the other side. It will be better than you ever thought it would be. Don't let fear stop you from where it is you need to go. Don't let fear keep you stuck from seeing the beauty on the other side of the mountain.

Now I would love to hear from you! What is one challenge in your life you are really glad that you took on and why? Leave a comment below and I'll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesday!

4 Replies to “What I learned about life by climbing Gros Morne Mountain”

Ann Jansen

Thank you for sharing your experience as well as your thoughts regarding the climb up Gros Morne. Great job, well done!
How long did it take you to go up and down?
May I share your insights regarding this experience? I think my members would benefit greatly.
Thanks, in advance.

Dr Michelle Durkin ND

Hi Ann,
It took me 6 hours in total. Feel free to share my article with anyone you think might benefit 🙂

Shawna Courneyea

Congratulations on making your climb! My friend Bev and I just finished walking the Camino Santiago. It was six days of walking and 178 km later completed our journey. It was one of the most incredible trips and pilgrimage I have ever made. As you said, when you try something you never did before once you have finished which required courage and determination to get to the end of the journey the sense of accomplishment is so overwhelming and inspiring.

Our pilgrimage allowed us the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and be a part of the history that is made every day in Spain by people like ourselves walking and experiencing the sear joy of pushing ourselves to the limit, exceeding our expectations, and the pleasure of meeting other pilgrams along the way.

Dr Michelle Durkin ND

Thank-you for sharing Shawna!

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