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It’s Always Darkest

Do you like to climb mountains?

I always think I do.

Until I get about halfway up. When the angle is 45 degrees, and I’m forced to use my hands to keep from sliding backward, I can’t keep my focus on the next few feet for freaking out about how far I have left to go.

And so it was yesterday. Me, in all kinds of good shape. I just walked across the better part of three states, remember? Of course, my Natchez Trace walk didn’t include a 1,500 foot elevation gain in about a mile. Straight up. Without switchbacks. Or enough water on a hot day.

Still, when I made it to the top, I sat on a rock. I let the sun burn my face, and I savored being there. My fresh heel blister and the filth and burning lungs were all worth it to get to where I wanted to be.

I need to remember that.

When I survey the landscape of the rest of my life.

**********

A big fat Tumblr hiking post. Because I’m not the only one who should get to savor the view: Andra Watkins Tumblr

To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is the perfect Father’s Day read. Available in paperback and e-book formats at these outlets: Click to Purchase To Live Forever.

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66 Comments Post a comment
  1. What the hell are you doing up so late, Andra? I’m too old to climb mountains. I’ll take a car. I would have enjoyed hiking the Natchez Trail though.

    May 12, 2014
    • I set my posts to go up at a certain time every day, Ted. That way, I can sleep through their posting. 🙂

      May 12, 2014
  2. Wonderful analogy….worth the climb
    .

    May 12, 2014
    • It’s always worth the climb. Waterfall hikes are harder for me, because the payoff happens before the climb. 🙂

      May 12, 2014
  3. Climb every mountain, Andra.

    May 12, 2014
    • I’m staying in today. Big ole blister on my heel from yesterday.

      May 12, 2014
      • What mountain did you climb? You didn’t say.

        May 12, 2014
      • We did a circuit here in Montreat. Stomping Knob, Big Piney Ridge over Rattlesnake Rock and Lower Piney Ridge. Five miles.

        May 12, 2014
      • You are a Blue Babe (like Babe, the blue ox). My girlfriend and I formed a club, but we don’t have T-shirts yet. :-p

        May 12, 2014
  4. Uh, not only could I not walk the Natchez Trace, but I don’t climb mountains. I did climb my stairs yesterday though

    May 12, 2014
  5. Well done. Change in perspective is the reward for stepping (or climbing) out of your comfort zone.

    May 12, 2014
    • The steepness was the part that was most beyond my comfort zone.

      May 12, 2014
  6. I love hiking, not so sure about mountain climbing though. I like the deep woods with streams and such. Not the heights.

    May 12, 2014
    • I had to cross several streams, too. I can’t stand doing that, because I’m always afraid I’ll slip on a rock.

      May 12, 2014
  7. I’d settle for walking, thanks. If there’s an elevation gain, that’s OK; I just don’t want to see it below me. 🙂 I can get vertigo looking down a stairwell!

    However, you are right about the views in life always being worth the effort!

    May 12, 2014
    • Part of this is my constant struggle to get over my own fear of heights. I’m much better than I used to be.

      May 12, 2014
  8. Dropping by to say hi. I need to follow your lead and embrace the pain of the challenge. Thanks for the reminder.

    May 12, 2014
    • Most things worth having aren’t easy. Doesn’t make the pain any less of…….a pain. 🙂 Thinking about you, Dear.

      May 12, 2014
  9. Since I live at sea level, I need to be reminded of such a challenge. Mine comes from bike riding on the beach against a 24 knot wind. Good post.

    May 12, 2014
    • Owowow! I’m awestruck, John, as I can’t ride my bike very well when the air is still. Good challenge.

      May 12, 2014
  10. And surveying the landscape of your future sometimes we need those reminders that it’s not ALL uphill.

    May 12, 2014
    • What’s bad about me is I struggle more with the downhill. 🙂 Fear of heights makes a downward incline constantly make me feel like I’m going to fall.

      May 12, 2014
  11. Congrats on making it to the top! Did you find the answers you needed as you surveyed the landscape of your life? I need to survey the landscape of my own life.

    May 12, 2014
    • I don’t know that I’ll ever find the answers, Linda, but I’m learning to enjoy both the looking for them and the being clueless so much of the time. 🙂

      May 12, 2014
  12. Feeling that burn can become addicting. The brain wills and finds a way.

    May 12, 2014
    • I know. I’m not active enough these days. I need to correct that.

      May 12, 2014
      • Hmm…your bod is still reaping the benefits of your Trace traipse, but it’s probably wondering about down time. Probably a good thing the mountains woke it up a bit.

        May 12, 2014
  13. yeseventhistoowillpass #

    Imagine them walking to the West Coast… Head out this way! You aren’t Chicken are you? Oh who am I kidding, I would lay down next to a tree and let the bears eat me.

    May 12, 2014
    • If I ever decide to walk the entire Lewis and Clark Trail, I think MTM will shoot me. (And I’m terrified of bears, too.)

      May 12, 2014
  14. That must have been a heck of a climb. Not for the weak hearted. But then you’ve proved yourself over and over — to yourself. Perhaps your heart doesn’t trust your head, or is it that your head doesn’t trust your feet/legs/body? You are powerful. You are strong. You can be afraid and that is just human. If you keep climbing mountains perhaps you will convince yourself that “I got this.”

    May 12, 2014
    • I’m too ambitious. Well, maybe not too ambitious, but I’m afraid I won’t live up to my dreams. Maybe that’s a heart and head thing. I’ve come a long way, though, because a decade ago, I never would’ve believed in myself enough to risk anything.

      May 12, 2014
  15. Self-created suffering often is rooted in the frantic desire to attain something other than what we already have . . .

    But nothing lasts.
    So what’s the rush?

    Enjoy the journey as each moment unfolds into the next.
    Be patient. Life is stirred with a slow spoon.

    May 12, 2014
    • I’d be bored with an easy life, but that’s the great thing about humans. We can all find what makes us happy.

      May 12, 2014
    • Haha! Is there such a thing as “an easy life”? Some how, I doubt it. 😎

      I’m glad you found your happy. Some never do:

      “Humans are miserable because you’re always focused on what you want. And, even when you get it, you’re miserable, because nothing lasts.” ~ Socrates (Peaceful Warrior)

      May 12, 2014
  16. The mountains nourish me in a way food cannot. So excited I’m finally heading back at the end of the week.

    And I couldn’t agree more on the climb being worth it. I have yet to make a summit that I didn’t fall in love with.

    May 12, 2014
    • They are nourishing. I feel the same way about them. (Plus, they’re way cooler than home right now. Ha.)

      I hope you enjoy your trip this go round. And you get to do some hiking.

      May 12, 2014
  17. Glenda #

    Hope you’re enjoying my home town!

    May 12, 2014
  18. I grew up in the hills of India, at about 7,000/- feet above sea level. I love the sea and the mountains

    May 12, 2014
  19. Kir Piccini #

    It’s a beautiful analogy for life right now for me, thanks for the reminder.
    (and I hope you had a fantastic view from where you sat)

    xo

    May 12, 2014
  20. Your Tumblr photos are wonderful, Andra! It looks like there was plenty of gorgeous scenery to distract you from the climb up. I’d need that kind of encouragement too. 🙂

    May 12, 2014
    • Ha. I take pictures to break the climb up. I am my father’s daughter. He stops to look at trees and name vegetation, and I take photos.

      May 13, 2014
  21. …because walking 444 miles is simply not enough! I wish you would stop being such an under-achiever! Pictures are beautiful! 🙂

    May 12, 2014
  22. Nice piece, Andra. And yes, especially here in the Andes, the climb is always worth it!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    May 12, 2014
    • We’re gonna get there, Kathy. We might be able to do the Rotary International Convention in Sao Paulo next year and get to you from there.

      May 13, 2014
  23. Thought you’d enjoy this:

    May 12, 2014
  24. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    So, from the title, I’ll be singing this all day! Sounds like a great hike.

    May 12, 2014
  25. a good approach to life, i think. )

    May 12, 2014
  26. tarakianwarrior #

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – you are an inspiration. I’m the same way – I know I can do anything…I only second guess myself when I’m doing it. 😀

    May 13, 2014
    • Did you ever do that bike ride, Lori? I thought you were doing one sometime this Spring, but I haven’t seen anything about it. (And please forgive me if I missed it. I have my FB set to get all your updates, and they still don’t give them to me.)

      May 13, 2014
      • tarakianwarrior #

        Good God – I wouldn’t wish getting all my updates on anyone. ;-/ No, I haven’t done it yet. I had planned on doing it in March but they wouldn’t open the trail for just little ol me (go figure), so now I have to wait until I can get Mike to NOT go to the cabin so he can pick me up. 🙂 Going to do it by myself since I cannot bribe anyone to come with me….

        May 14, 2014
  27. I love that you are always reaching! I think that this is a time for you to do as much climbing and reaching and creating and pushing as you can possibly incorporate in your busy life. This is lovely to read, Andra. I feel the tired exhilaration. ox

    May 13, 2014
    • Creation is fun work, if that makes sense. Not lucrative, but fun.

      May 13, 2014
  28. Oh, Andra, I’m not much of climber. Just ask my family. The whole way up I’d be worrying about how I was going to get down. I really should tell the story some day of how angry I was with Tom, who took us snowshoeing, on an easy trail. Yea. Like, really? Olympic skier (I kid you not) swooshing past us in our snowshoes with me, well, let’s just say I was cussing.

    May 13, 2014
    • Penny, if we ever get together, we’re going to be in the same boat. I trip over everything, and I’m not very coordinated. I’d be a disaster in snowshoes. MTM wouldn’t even convince me to put them on. 🙂 I’d love to hear your story.

      May 13, 2014
  29. I’m laughing here. I have the same experience whenever I say: “hey, let’s see where this stream down here goes.” The adventure calls, but my-oh-my how difficult it is.

    May 13, 2014
  30. A bit behind, but here’s your next climb:

    Um… good luck? Bring a parachute and some pillows and wear a hardhat.

    May 18, 2014

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