Tuesday, June 11, 2013

to new heights

Half Dome:  /haf dōm/ (noun/verb)  a 16 mile, 4,800 ft elevation change, granite stair stepping hike past 900 feet of waterfalls concluding in 400 vertical feet of gnarly-hold-on-for-your-life cable climbing excitement in the heart of Yosemite Valley.


 The hike was arduous to say the least... with multiple moments where I wished/prayed/pleaded for a piggy back ride or a mule to come and transport me to the top.   The steps pounded my knees and ankles.  The elevation change left little oxygen to fill my lungs.  The trail felt endless.  At one point, in the middle of the evil sub-dome steps of death (as they shall always be referred to), I dejectedly sat on a rock and conceded that the stupid mountain had won... to which I was quickly ordered to get up and get moving by my faithful support squad!

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to throw up or throw in the towel... But I wanted to make it.  I may have slowed to an almost glacial pace and stopped for a breather every 2-3 minutes (with faithful friends by my side)... but like the tortoise or little blue engine, I tried to keep plugging along.  And eventually, after what felt like an eternity...and after so many kind encouragements and affirmations that its ok to rest sometimes...  I made it.

I battled more than steps, elevation, and fatigue along the way... I came face to face with some very real, very ugly personal demons.  Ones that told me I'm not good enough, fit enough, fast enough, slim enough, active enough, outdoorsy enough... that whispered maniacally into my head that I was dead weight and my group would be better off without me, snarled insults about my body and told me to quit, turn around, go home.  Insults quickly spun out of control, encompassing almost every shortcoming, fear or inadequacy in my life.  The hike was hard, but the strain didn't feel proportional to the sharp pokes from these devious gremlins.

But now that these vile insults have fully surfaced, I can look them in the eye and figure out what to do with them.  How to fight them.  How to rise above them.  I'll tell ya one thing, they look a lot smaller and weaker from the top of 8,835'.

I am grateful to have this little accomplishment under my belt.  To look back and think, ya... we did that!  Sure, my feet felt like raw hamburger and I was almost unable to move the next day... but its done. and it was great.  and I'm proud of it.  And the views... oh... the veiws.  Breathtaking. Unbelievable.  Holy.  I was awed and overpowered by my surroundings.  I'm starting to understand this granola eating, nature-loving, wilderness hiker thing that people do.  It is powerful and enriching to the soul.

I went to have some fun, see some trees, and climb a rock.  Needless to say, I got much more than I bargained for...

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