“Today is the day. I am definitely going to die.”

This thought filled my mind during one of the most tiring days of my life. Since I came to Idaho, I have heard people say how much they love hiking and how beautiful the places are, but no one ever mentions how dangerous it is and how much your body hurts from the exercise.

I learned my lesson the hard way.

My friend, Gustavo, suggested Goldbug Hot Springs as a cool activity for our day off, Presidents’ Day. I heard about the place before, and I got excited.

We planned our trip and invited a dozen people to come. Lots of talking and lots of music filled the three-hour drive. It almost distracted me from the coming hike.

Once my roommate Liz parked her car, I opened the door and felt the cold air fill my body. I put on more layers. My feet already felt like ice cubes. Of course, that didn’t surprise me since my feet are always cold.The hike hadn’t even started, though, so I got a little worried.

Our group got their backpacks and their jackets and started walking. The tallest guy in the group led us to the path. We started going up in the 18-degree Fahrenheit weather. The trail was icy, and there was no way to catch your fall. If I fell, it would be the end of me.

That was the first time I felt afraid for my life since I came to the U.S. For most readers, that may seem like a dramatic reaction; but coming from Brazil, the only life-threatening experience I had was walking on the streets of my home city after 10 p.m., and I always avoided those situations.

After about 400 meters of slippery ice, the snow disappeared, and wet sand occupied the trail. I finally looked around, and the trees were almost green again. The bright sun uncovered huge mountains. Two of them met at their valleys and looked like a “V.”

After about 30 minutes, the hike didn’t seem as hard nor as cold. I didn’t need all the layers of clothing anymore, so my heavy black jacket was the first thing I got rid of. Since I didn’t have a backpack on me, I had to carry the jacket the whole way up.

After more slippery places, we started going up rocks. When I felt like my heart would explode from beating too fast, someone came from the opposite direction and said, “You are almost there.” Some even said the hike would be worth it. That gave me the strength to ignore the pain in every part of my body and continue. However, my body couldn’t contribute much since I hadn’t eaten almost anything that day — something I had only realized at that moment. I felt I would faint at any moment.

I almost did, but one of my friends gave me the most delicious granola bar in the world. (I usually hate healthy stuff. I even lie sometimes, saying I’m allergic to salad and vegetables so people don’t force me to eat them. That granola bar, though, tasted amazing!)

After eating the granola bar, I reached the end of the hike. Liz was sitting down on the ground freezing, waiting for me to get there. Despite this, she said, “Look at that view.”

Frozen trees and fog occupied most of the view. Then I looked down and saw the short waterfall of hot water.

Changing to my swimsuit felt like someone was throwing knives all over my body. After minutes of agony, we walked down the little path. Since I had no shoes on, my friend Josh carried me and dropped me in the water.

The warmth of the water filled my body. The pain of my body defrosting took over for a minute. My hands hurt more than everything else. I couldn’t move them for a while because of the pain. After a few minutes, however, the pain went away and I enjoyed soaking in the warm water.

At that moment, I realized that the sacrifice, pain and effort were all worth it.