It was 4pm in July.
I had started the day off a bit rough. I had opened that morning at Starbucks and worked a full 8 hour shift, having started at 4am and gotten off at 12pm.
Like I said, it was a rough start to the day – but the sun was shinning and my yearning for a good read and the mountains was stronger than ever.
I parked my car and started walking. The trailhead was about a half mile up the road.
My plan was to find a nice place in the woods to sit, eat my salad, and read Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
As I started up the trail, I was eager to find a nice spot to relax. Something a little off the trail just in case hikers who passed by couldn’t see me — I was a bit embarrassed to be seen on a trail and not actually be hiking it…
It didn’t take me long to find a nice decaying tree to sit on. I ate my salad and read a little of my book.
Feeling a little rejuvenated I decided to hike up the trail a little father. It had said that the hike to the balcony wasn’t too far out and fairly easy.
Before long, I found myself at the bend where the trail splits. It was kind of hard to tell where exactly the trail for the balcony was, but I was confident I was on the right path.
Making my way to the lookout, I found a cozy rock to nestle into and just sat in silence as I took in the views. It was a lot better than I had expected.
Before I decided to head down, I pulled out my phone. I was curious as to how much farther hiking the peak was.
I couldn’t seem to find any mileage or elevation stats, just people’s reviews. And in my head their excuses were just more motivation to keep going.
Everyone said it was super difficult, but from what I saw, the trail going to the top looked easier than the one I just went on.
Now even more curious and suddenly feeling super energetic, I made my way back to where the two trails met. I looked at the path going down, and then to my right where it went up.
I went right.
I told myself just a little farther.
I grabbed a stick off the ground and used it to help me keep going — who am I kidding, I was exhausted.
Shortly after I started, I passed a girl about my age who was on her way down. I asked her how much farther, and she responded with, “You could maybe make it there before sunset.”
Maybe? Who do you think I am? Someone who drives an hour and a half just to read a book in the woods? No I came here to hike.
Okay — she might have just challenged me without intending too. And honestly, this girl was REALLY nice. I was just sleep deprived, running off of a salad, and to be honest — I was flat out being stubborn.
So I kept going.
It never ended. I swear.
I must have told myself, “Just a little farther…” about a thousand times.
And that walking stick, was now my life line. Literally dragging myself up the mountain.
I was feeling defeated. But I knew it was a lot farther back down than it was to the top at this point.
Rest when you get there.
Cue inner dialogue — Just make it to that tree. Good job. Now make it to that tree. Good job.
I was losing it.
If you have ever climbed a mountain, you know what its like to see what you think is the top. And then realize it just keeps going up and up and up — you get the point.
But at last. I made it. And there was still light to spare.
Mountain peaks rising up everywhere. Mt. Rainier looming in the distance. The last of the sun glimmering on the peaks just before everything goes to dark.
I felt accomplished.
I felt unbeatable.
I felt alone.
It was such an epic moment, but not a sole knew I was up there (I know I should have told someone where I was going) — and there was nobody to share it with. Not even my dog.
The moment of glory came and went, and after exploring around a bit, I decided my next goal was to make it back down the mountain before the sunsets. — Challenge excepted.
The way down was a lot easier, but I was pretty ready to get back to civilization. Mainly because I didn’t have any other food with me and no headlamp or flashlight.
10pm — I was back at my car. Just as the last of the light was gone for good.
I later found out how far I hiked. 8.5 miles – 3326 ft elevation gain.
It was the second hardest hike I had ever done.
Sometimes having a plan is good. But other times, a plan would just get in the way.
I know for a fact, that if I had set out to conquer that mountain that day, I wouldn’t have made it.
But instead, I gave myself a little at a time. Not biting off more than I could chew.
Dreams — Goals — Plans — are all good things, but sometimes we see them as this vast mountain looming over our heads. We get in our own heads, thinking there is no way we are capable of conquering them.
When you set small goals, maybe having a bigger picture end all goal in mind, but only giving yourself a little at a time, you later look back realizing you made it.
And honestly, we are capable of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.
Set some smalls goals, and hold yourself to them. Don’t make excuses — and before you know it, you will have summited a mountain.