The caption to this photo should read, “I’m smiling but I’m TIRED and I’m HOT and MY FEET HURT. ARE WE THERE YET???”
THERE refers to the chalet that we failed to reach two days ago (see the blog post of July 6) because I couldn’t take another step up after about 3 miles. Today, I decided that I wanted to take another shot at reaching the chalet, 2450 ft. and over four miles from the trailhead. I don’t know exactly why I wanted to do this, and I’m still wondering about it. This shot was taken beyond the area where I turned around last time, and I was trying to use the beautiful scenery to spur me on.
I was hiking at a crazy slow pace using my trekking pole to help pull me along. David, who was feeling full of energy had to wait every so often to let me catch up. It was so painful for David to watch me slog along (and I’m sure my complaining wasn’t too pleasant either) that even he was praying for the chalet to please, please come into view. Eventually it did:
Um. I think I was expecting something just a wee bit grander, and after 4-plus grueling miles I was a bit disappointed with the pay-off. This was “chalet” Glacier-style, which meant picnic benches, Butterfingers for sale and non-functioning outdoor bathrooms. There are several hotel rooms in there for folks who want to hike up and stay overnight. And do WHAT?
We did meet some interesting people up there. One man, who was heading back down the trail was 77 years old! And a group of ladies (native Montanans in their sixties!) was getting ready to turn back around after hiking up before us. Wow, kind of shame-inducing. I had been looking forward to a good hour of relaxing time before heading back but the gnats got to us. At least we spotted some fun wildlife. Check out this marmot:
Zoom lens. I had no intention of getting this close 🙂
So here’s the thing about going downhill after a steep four miles uphill. It’s just not that much easier. The constant pounding on already tired legs and feet is not comfortable. I was dying for some flat terrain, but it was not to be. Here’s David (with a real smile on his face) waiting for me (again, still) amidst the lush foliage hugging the trail. In just two days the greenery on the trail really exploded.
I groaned and grimaced my way back down to the trailhead all the while wondering what I was trying to prove. Perfectionist tendencies kicking in? Existential dread? Some competitive thing? Who knows. What I do know is that after miles and miles and miles of hiking this week my body simply had enough. I felt somewhat proud of myself for making it to the top, but I didn’t feel like I had achieved anything that really mattered to me.
For me, there’s a tension between having a sense of what my limitations might be and knowing that growth comes from trying new things and facing fear. There’s also tension between “knowing myself” and discovering new things about myself. One example of revisiting a long-held belief from this trip happened when we were hiking in the snow. It was so wonderful to be out in the sunshine on the snow that I am now thinking about trying cross-country skiing this winter. What I have always “known” about myself is that I hate the snow.
I remain committed to routinely straying out of my comfort zone and at the same time being honest with myself and others about how I feel when I stray. And I always, always reserve the right to change my mind.
Looking forward to a much-needed day off tomorrow…