In the last month, three of my close friends accomplished some amazing feats: my J-School classmate completed the Chicago marathon, my coworker climbed Mount Whitney on his day off and The Good Badger just finished a thruhike of the Appalachian Trail.
I needed a quest of my own so I looked to the earliest tales of heroism to find an act that would challenge my body, mind and soul: I would climb to the top of Mount Olympus and high-five the Gods!
I booked a flight ten days out to Athens. After spending some time in the capital, I headed to the mountain.
I had never climbed before, but it seemed like a reasonable challenge and I was in reasonable shape. The mountain was only 9, 500 feet tall and the terrain looked manageable. After consulting my aforementioned hiking buddies, I set out on my journey after donning a fresh pair of hiking shoes and a Spartan helmet from an Athenian gift shop.
I did not anticipate snow at the peak. Perhaps shorts was a bad idea. I did not take altitude into account. Chaphaestus, God of Chafing, wreaked havoc on my loins. I guess in retrospect I would recommend that others exercise a little more caution - I try to come to grips with this fact in the following video:
Despite all the reasons not to follow though, I did. And I'm stronger for it. And proud. Quests give you motivation and purpose in your travels, and served as my catalyst for exploring Europe altogether. Such goals provide joy, calculated danger and an adventure that you will never forget. There's no better souvenir than a good story and now I'm committed to coming up with my next test of willpower (then another, to complete the trilogy).