It dates back to when I was 17. My sister and my friend were going to hike Mount Washington with her dad. Mount Washington (6288 Ft.) is the tallest mountain in the northeast and known as “home to the worlds harshest/most extreme weather”. I was invited to join, but hesitated. Let’s be real….bottom line…I chickened out! I didn’t think I could do it. At that point in my life, if I couldn’t do things “well”, then I just didn’t do it. That was my perfectionist mentality for a very very long time. If I did something, I wanted it to be “great” ! But, how can you be “great” at something, if you haven’t done it? They came back from their expedition elated, filled with fun stories talking about how crazy the weather was with smiles on their faces. Disappointment and regret sat inside of me, and it stayed there…
Fast forward in time. I became a nurse, a wife, and a mom and all of my goals and desires halted. I did everything for everyone else and that was what my life had become. Until a year and a half ago. I read the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown and it completely shifted my outlook and approach on living. I even blogged about it here: https://lilysparrowprimitives.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/daring-greatly-2/ . For so long I didn’t do hard things because of fear, shame, anxiety, and inadequacy. The voice in the back of my head was, “who do you think you are?”, “a mother’s priority should be her home and her kids”, “you should have done that when you were younger”, “your body can’t handle that physically anymore….you missed the window of opportunity” . But then I thought, what does this show my girls? When you become a mom, that is all your life is? That I don’t have a sense of adventure anymore? That being older means giving up on tough goals? That my life is solely wrapped into them? I slowly started doing things for me and I stopped caring about the voice in the back of my head.
I also considered….what is this life? I look around and think….how many people are just wasting this!!! Walking around and not seeing the beauty in every aspect of this life that you have been granted!! Every single day that I am blessed to wake up with air in my lungs and a body that functions well is a gift!! I don’t want to waste this swimming in pile of regrets. I want to live each day to the fullest that I can. Yes, there are days of frustrations and hard times, but those days are also filled with grace and love and beauty too!!!
Over the last year I have done things that challenge me to a point that I never have. Achievements that make me smile and say…”I’m so glad I did this”…and it didn’t matter if I did it well, but that I accomplished it. Many of them have to do with hiking. You see, I married an avid hiker. For the longest time he would go on these amazing adventures and I would see these awesome pictures and think….”so fun, but I could never do that”. I’ll just stay at home and read my books about adventures and interesting things. Last spring I finally got the courage to do my first solo hike (i blogged about it here: https://lilysparrowprimitives.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/573/ ). I also hiked my first 4000 footer (Cannon) and hiked The Franconia Ridge Trail in NH (one of the most epic hikes in the whole country). I had Mt. Washington listed for the fall, but we got snowed out several times (go figure!). So, I did my first fall hike (Mt. Liberty) and winter hike (Pierce and Eisenhower). The summer came and I knew I wanted to get Mt. Washington off my bucket list. I wanted to finally get rid of that disappointment and regret that still lingered inside.
Sunday (7/9) was the day. We have another hike potentially for the end of the summer that has a lot of exposure and Dave wanted to prepare me for that. So he chose…Mt. Washington via Huntington Ravine Trail. This trail is known to be the very hardest/technical climb east of the Mississippi. The night before and the morning of….I had a pit in my stomach and that same “voice of doubt” in the back of my head. I fought it off by writing inspirational quotes on my hands and arm. The thinking and waiting was tough. I was glad that we decided to go with my BIL (Jim) and SIL (Carolyn). The night before I thought…why am I doing this? Well, My answer was….because I CAN (physically, emotionally, mentally) and because there will be no greater feeling than accomplishing this!!! This is over 18 years I’ve held onto this. We hiked the early portion of the trail and I felt confident (even passing the “very dangerous trail” sign), but I will admit….when we got to the foot of the first major transition point on the headwall…that was scary. The hike continued to worsen with finding foothold and handhold moves that were tricky climbing up the rugged rock (I am so glad I had a few rock climbing sessions under my belt from this winter). Eventually, you have several huge boulders you have to meander around (with exposed cliff drop offs behind you and very little footing)….these were nerve wracking. The last crucial point in the trail is a “chimney”….I froze here. I sat there thinking…”I dont know if I can do this….maybe I should turn back?”, but in reality…turning back was more dangerous! Dave was able to get up the chimney with his longer legs, but my boot kept slipping and there was no way my legs could reach where his did. (he later admitted…..he was very nervous for me at this point). Thankfully, Jim gave me his knee to step on to extend my footing and give me the ability to push up and over and I was able to grab onto the rock and reach for Dave’s hand. I will tell you….the moment I finally exited this trail….was sheer relief! I would never tell anyone to do this unless they were a heavily experienced hiker! One false move….you could die or be severely injured (thankfully I went with Dave and Jim!). By the time I made the summit of Mt. Washington, I was tired, ecstatic, and maybe in a state of shock. 18 years later I accomplished an adventure that I should have done years ago, but truthfully, I think this made me enjoy it that much more. Some ask….why hike? Firstly, I can do something with my husband that he is completely passionate about. Finally, because there is nothing that compares to the feeling of being so small on a mountain. When you are so little and everything else is so vast and big…..I know that without a shadow of a doubt…there is an amazing Creator who cares about the big things and small things in life! There is nothing more beautiful or humbling than that.
I will leave you with a slideshow of highlights from our trip….