Tales from the Trail: Going Up, Feeling Down

Did I seriously forget to bring food again?

Ah well, what can you do.  That feeling of dread was quickly replaced with my legs pounding with exhaustion.  I consoled them with a generous amount of stretching, and eventually they calmed down.  I sat back down and stared at the basin below me for a little while longer, and looked back over my shoulder at the perpetual uphill awaiting me.

It would have been easy to turn around and head back.  I was tired, I didn’t have food.. I laid down in the damp dirt and stared at the sky for a bit.  I thought over my options.  I could turn back now and go stuff my face with food, or I could push up a little further and see how I felt.  Undecided yet, I stood up and got my backpack back on.  As I stood there, a hiker passed by.

“Where you headed?” She asked.

“Kings Peak” I said reflexively.  That was the original plan, but I wasn’t sure by now.

We made small talk for a moment and she pressed on.  I was reminded of why I was out here.  It wasn’t like I was out to conquer mountains.  Despite my interest in mountaineering at some point in the future, standing on top of things and feeling triumphant isn’t exactly my thing.  I was just here to hike, and there was a trail in front of me that wasn’t going to walk itself.  I looked back down at the basin, and at the walls encasing this beautiful flat field, and at Kings Peak above me.

I’d spent too long focusing on all the negatives, I forgot where I was.  The views and the cool breeze recharged me, and I continued my ascent up this damn pass.

The hill out of my beloved field of rock and grass wasn’t too bad, and before I knew it I could see the end of the pass in the distance, nestled between Kings Peak and its sibling to the East.  I can do this.  I had a bit of a flat walk before I made my final ascent up the pass, and took the moment to recharge a bit.  I was feeling a bit better once I hit my last push up the pass.

But as I ascended, I felt worse almost immediately.  I kept my head down and focused on breathing.  I’d stop every five minutes or so to rest a little bit, then push on.  Occasionally I’d look over and scowl at the mountain.

And scowl at its sibling.

By the time I neared the top, I was just shuffling.  I was spent.  I’d been hiking for who knows how long at this point.  My heart sank when I saw someone start their ascent.

Even standing next to it, my sense of scale for the mountain was still a little off.  Nothing like a little dot of a person to put things into perspective.  But I pushed the dread aside and kept climbing up.  At some point, I could see the hill taper off and end on the horizon.  The top, oh my god the top!  I pushed on up and was greeted with the most amazing thing.

I sat there in disbelief for a while.  There’s no way this is real, right?  It’s just wrong that views like this exist, how am I ever going to appreciate anything after seeing this?  I realized that I had at some point in the day started at the elevation of the basin below me, and that I’d made it this far.  I could handle one more climb.  I sat at the top for a while to rest my legs, occasionally being shoved around by the wind.  I can do this.

I started to climb.

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