We chose a ten mile, round-trip hike up to Buckskin Pass. The trailhead was at 9,580 feet, which is about the highest I had previously ever hiked up to (in the Tetons last summer). From there, we climbed to a thrilling 12,462 feet at the pass - a new record for me! Shelley's been to over 20,000 feet and is a true mountaineer. She was an encouraging, gentle guide! I'm so glad to be following in her bootsteps.
|The Maroon Bells from the lake near the trailhead|
|Woot woot! So excited to start!|
Mostly, I saw parallels between reaching a goal on the trail and reaching a goal in life. We set out to reach Buckskin Pass, but I honestly wasn't sure if I would make it. I didn't know how my body would adjust to the altitude, and I didn't know if my legs would carry me on such a long, steady uphill climb - through the snow, no less. (Armed with my new inhaler, I hoped at least my lungs may finally be up to the task!)
So the first lesson is this:
Set your goal, and hold it with an open hand.
I was careful how I spoke about our trek from the beginning. I didn't want to say, "I will get to Buckskin Pass," because as mentioned above, I knew that there were many factors that may cause me to turn around. But I also didn't want to say, "I won't get to Buckskin Pass," because I didn't want to sell myself short. So I said, "Let's aim for Buckskin Pass, see how far we get, and enjoy every moment along the way."
|Along the trail, near the beginning|
As we hiked, I kept looking ahead, wondering which dip between which huge peaks was Buckskin. Although we could figure out the general direction using our topo map, we couldn't see it until about 3/4 of the way into our hike. It was hidden by many towering ranges. I always marvel at the mountains' ability to keep some of their secrets hidden; they reveal wonders one at a time, presenting them to you in pieces as you travel. I always try to imagine what the trail will look like to get there, and it's always so much different, and so much better, than what I concoct in my mind.
So the next lesson I learned was this:
Trust that your goal still lies ahead of you, even when you can't see it, and you don't know exactly how to get there.
|The snow getting deep, and the trail getting steep|
As we continued our hike, I was often surprised at the turns the trail took. Now having the pass in sight high above, I knew which direction it would take to get there, but hiking straight up to it would be way too steep - we would have slid right back down the mountain. So we had to follow the winding trail, even when it meant our bodies were facing geographically away from our goal. I kept saying things like, "What? The trail goes this way?"
And I was reminded how often life has taken me in a seemingly opposite direction of where I thought I was going, only to find out after that I was still on my way all along. So the final lesson I learned on this trail was: