I couldn’t wait for it to end; this entire hike had been brutal. Almost from the moment I stepped foot on the trail, I’d been counting away the miles. “One fifth of the way to the top…just need to do that four more times…three more times….two…” If I’m honest with myself, I knew I would struggle. Eleven miles is a lot for me, especially after a long winter with sporadic exercise, especially when half of those eleven miles involve 3,045 feet of elevation gain.
Thoughts of this hike had haunted me for weeks but here I was putting one foot in front of the other and loathing my decision making skills with every step. To really put the icing on the cake, fog had crept in from every side. And then I was sloshing through mud. And then snow.
When at last I arrived at my destination, the old fire tower at the summit of Mount Cammerer, I stared into the fog, turned around and began my descent in a huff. Anxiety was weaving its tentacles around my brain, the exertion had triggered a headache and, looking down at my hands, I realized my body had created a new and disturbing reaction to physical activity–my fingers had swollen into plump sausages. Soon after, I slipped and fell on my butt.
Forty-eight hours later, on my way up to Charlie’s Bunion, I was bouncing through puddles, hair going frizzy in the incessant mist and fog, absolutely BLISSED OUT.
THIS is why I hike. In the moments of frustration and fatigue, when the climb is grueling and my attitude is bad, I ask myself, “Why do you do this to yourself?!” The answer is simple. Hiking can be difficult, but when it is not, it is bliss. The annoyance and exertion of long uphill climbs are syncopated by moments of absolute life-giving joy that make all the struggles worth the effort.
Here, I could draw a comparison to life. But I think you can see that for yourself.