What I learned On Top of A Mountain: Part 2

Happy … Sunday? Friends! Yes, that is right, it is in fact Sunday, not Friday. Womp Womp.

I underestimated how much my adventure last Sunday would kick my butt. But I digress …

This week, I would like to discuss with you some of the profundity’s I came across while hiking a Presidential Traverse on Sunday.

Just what the heck is a Presidential Traverse you ask?

It is a 20 mile hike (19.8) across the White Mountains in which you hit each of the presidential peaks. Of course, I am told from a purist perspective it is not a true presidential traverse unless it includes the 8th peak, but I’m not terribly concerned with semantics.

Here’s a map of the hike we did!

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As I mentioned, this hike really gave me quite a butt kicking! It took us 16 hours and went from pre-dawn to post sunset. Amidst the laughs, the sweat, and the tears, I reached several moments where I felt absolutely clear. As if some mystery or piece of knowledge fell within my grasp to solve and understand. I find these moments often when out in nature hiking (of course, I also find an abundance of these moments in the shower and in the car.)

Today, I would like to simply share with you the moments of inspiration that crossed paths with me during my adventure.

Never Spit Into The Wind.

This seems a little silly and is an age-old saying. What brought about this thought ironically was a literal application to the metaphor.

While at the peak of Madison and dealing with 60mph gusts of wind, I went to spit out some of what could only be described as “by product in the throat of altitude, cold, and physical activity” (I’m sure some people out there no what I’m talking about) and was actually surprised, when a gust picked up just then and flung the projectile back into my own face.

The only appropriate response to that was to laugh at myself. Fortunately, no one else had seen me do it and I was far enough ahead of my companions that I had enough time to consider the action I just took.

From the literal perspective, I was reminded “Don’t spit into the wind.” The consequence being, you’ll get hit with your own spit.

So, figuratively, what the metaphor means to me is a reminder how as we travel through life, we will always encounter gusts of wind. Resistance if you will. Resistance from the universe, relationships, tasks, trials, and the list goes on and on. When faced with those moments, the last thing you want to do is put your own crap against that resistance.  It will always come back and bite you.

Consider the following: You are working hard at making a new routine work, and it is pertinent that you allow yourself an extra 15 minutes in the mornings to do so. The alarm goes off, 25 minutes earlier, and you are faced with the decision of waking yourself up or hitting the snooze button. Don’t spit into the wind!

You’ve got a big project due, and an afternoon set aside to work on it. Someone approaches you with an opportunity to do something that will take up half up that time. Will the remaining half still be enough time? Don’t spit into the wind!

You’re on a roller coaster, going 60 miles an hour. Don’t spit into the wind!

Perspective, Yes it’s important.

Perspective. Possibly one of the strongest forces to our mental state and level of drive.

While climbing (several peaks) looking up to your destination always seemed so daunting and far. But as I came to notice each time I reached a peak and looked down, it never seemed as far as it did from the bottom.

Then, the light bulb clicked on.

As with all obstacles we face in life, as we are at the beginning working our way up, the destination always seems so far away and the odds against impossible. But once we achieve the peak, the goal, the end, we look back and it never seems as challenging as it was. It looks almost … easy. Perhaps on some metaphysical level, it is easy now, once we have conquered it there is no longer that battling sensation of “can I do it?” because from the top, that question has already been answered with a resounding yes.

So friends, remember while you are climbing that mountain, looking down from the top will provide you with perspective and make the journey all worth it.

Those who have arrived at the peak already never forget that the struggle is real. No matter how simple it looks from the top, remember what you had to go through to get there. Always encourage those who are still climbing.

Say Yes to Life.

This was quite possibly my favorite profound thought of the day. Through life we are faced with many opportunities to live. To take advantage if of them all we need to do is say “yes.”

It was halfway through the hike, as we were climbing Washington it’s self that my mind started to wander to the “Oh crap … what have I gotten myself into? I am going to die. My legs are going to give out, and I am going to die.” Now, I was not in any real life threatening danger, but my body ached to the point where I was struggling to maintain that mental focus to keep pushing. That all too familiar zone I often times help my clients push themselves into and through.

Mustering what I could, and popping a couple Ibuprofen, I sucked it up and said “yes” to life even though I had the opportunity to ride a train back down the mountain and quit the hike half way through.

The rest of the adventure was STILL just as grueling and my body and mind reached levels even beyond that initial point where I had to keep telling myself to simply throw the next leg in front as I trudged on.

When we hit that final peak at Pierce, and watched the sun starting to set on the horizon, the entire trip suddenly became more than worth it.

The accomplishment, the feat, the adventure.

Never in my life had I completed a hike quite like this, let alone put my body through a challenge quite as physical, and here I was, at the last peak of our journey watching one of the most beautiful sun sets I had ever seen from one of the highest points in North America.

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I’m reminded of a story at this moment.

While walking along a beach on the cape with a few friends on a very cold fall day, one of my friends looked out across the ocean and said “Let’s run into the water.”

The rest of us looked at him a little crazy, and without missing a beat, he threw off a couple lairs of clothing, looked us square in the eyes and said “Somewhere on the edge of your comfort zone is where life really happens.” Without missing a beat, he sped off into the water. His words rang true, and gave me this itching sensation of invigoration. I followed after and jumped into the water as well.

Yes, it was very cold.

Yes, it was crazy.

Yes … It made me feel alive.

Friends, say yes to life, as often as you can. We are only here for a short time, and the true adventure is making it mean something to you.

As many tears as it may take, as much as it may be outside your comfort zone. It will always leave you with a memory that can’t be replaced, a feeling that can’t be explained, and a life made, rather than simply lived.

Tune in Monday for another great article written by our friend Erin!

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