October 9, 2010

philosphy of hiking

When you spend 8-10 hours hiking up a mountain side you have a lot of time to think. At such times a lot of my thoughts center on just why I wanted to climb this mountain in the first place. After a few hours just putting one foot in front on another can lose its novelty. It's uphill all the way, there's a weight on your back, and the trail is pretty dusty. For a while I just think about where my boots are landing and watching the dust puff up. I listen to my pack creaking and hear the scrapes and clicks of my trekking poles as we traverse a stretch of granite covered hill side. I remember all the days I decided I was too tired to do my yoga or visit the gym, and I wish I'd taken the time when I could. Then I remember the days when I did my workouts anyway and am grateful for the ongoing push and pull of my muscles as I persevere over rain rutted trails and push upwards over awkwardly stair stepped boulders. Gulping the ever thinning oxygen into my lungs I inwardly say thanks that I've been able to work at correcting my anemia. I'm tired but not exhausted. Weary and yet eager to reach the top. I'm stronger for this hill than I was for the last. I rest my eyes on the peaks before me and reach for our evening's camp.

These are most of my thoughts as I tramp my slow way up the mountain. I'm the tortoise and not the hare. I walk long and arrive at camp after others have eaten. But I'm here. I can breathe the sweet September air and feel the first breath of winter rush over us every night. And so I walk over the mountains thinking these simple thoughts. Then, I raise my foot, put it down, and realize that this is life. It is so simple and yet so true. All of our days we spend making our way over the course set before us. We remember the good decisions and the bad, and we add to them according to our own bents. Sometimes we can rest our eyes on some goal and stretch out our hearts to it. Other times life closes in around us and rises before us so that all we can do is keep moving forward in faith that once day we'll reach the top of the mountain and find rest for our journey. The only way to learn how to live is to do it. Providence is both teacher and taskmaster. Every good decision I make at home makes my time on the mountains easier. Every lesson I learn on the mountain illustrates and prepares me for my life at home. I have found it so in other areas as well. Life teaches itself. God is revealed everywhere. We just have to keep looking.

Cause if you keep looking around and putting one foot in front on another, you might end up here:

From Vogelsang

Fletcher Peak on the trail up to Lake Vogelsang. Sometimes it's good to be reminded both of how far we've come and what lies ahead.

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