Think back to a time when you were about to face a daunting challenge, head on. Remember the nerves, the built-up anticipation? That’s exactly how I was feeling at 8am this past Sunday.
While most of my friends and family were in their beds or just waking up to eat breakfast I was about to embark on a serious adventure with my Dad and younger brother, Stephen. Ben Lomand, an intimidating mountain looming at 9,716 ft, is one of the tallest mountains in the Northern Wasatch Range. An eight-mile hike each way totals a monstrous sixteen miles. It’s a hike I’ve done before, just never this late in the year.
Starting the hike at a brisk pace we made it over a third of the way up by the second hour. We were making good time. I’ve always liked hiking but have never hiked more than 4 miles without getting blisters. At this point, I could feel the blisters forming, in addition, my hip was starting to hurt. As we continued hiking the pain grew.
Occasionally we passed other hikers and mountain bikers, one hiker advised us to turn back at the saddle because of the snow build up. In the back of my mind, I thought turning back wouldn’t be so bad, after all, wouldn’t it be ‘safer’.
As we reached the third hour we stopped to eat and rest. Approaching the saddle we had to make a decision, turn back or continue. As we were conversing, a trail created by previous hikers caught our eye. The trial went neatly through the snow to the summit. Because of those past hikers, we were able to press forward. Hiking in snow provided some positives, one of which being my pain was numbed.
About 200 yards from the top we spotted two hikers behind us, one of which was dressed in shorts. They were ultra marathoners getting in their Sunday exercise. Man did I feel like they were in a different league. I clearly need to hike more. After a brief chat, brevity was key, the guy in shorts was freezing, they told us that while hiking they had made the decision to move to the area because of its beauty. I reflected on how lucky we were to be able to have such a view in such a close proximity to our home.
At the summit we could see over the whole valley, the land stretched from horizon to horizon. We stood in silent awe. After taking in the view, we headed back down. Two hours of consistent descent brought our car insight.
Hiking sixteen miles over nine hours allows time to reflect. Here are some of my thoughts. Just like the trail leading to the top of the mountain I’m thankful for the people who have gone before me and what I’ve been able to learn from them. Even though the journey can be painful, there is reward found from investing and enduring physical pain. Advice is just advice, it’s not a command or rule of law. There are certain things you can’t take shortcuts to, like reaching the top of a mountain or growing stronger from experiencing a trial. True fulfillment is found in being committed. Being intimidated by big feats doesn’t make you a coward, it makes you courageous for trying.