Climb Every Mountain

I was going to make a comment about how the title of this blog post evokes images of Julie Andrews spinning and singing in a mountain meadow, until I looked up that song from The Sound of Music. About one minute into the video, I realized that it is not as cheerful as I had remembered and was actually sung in a dark room of a nunnery, and that imagery is not exactly what I was going for. Anyway, moving on…

During Christmas break, I completed one of my 21 goals by hiking to the peak of a mountain. I had not planned on hiking up a mountain during my family’s Christmas vacation, especially since we were staying near a famous ski resort. Unfortunately, winter was not quite ready to bless us with snow during the dates that we had booked our rental home. So when I realized that I would not be able to go skiing because of the complete and utter lack of snow, I knew that I would need to improvise by finding other activities to do during the vacation.

After some online searches, which showed that I could check out fun area attractions like a pottery studio or a general store full of expensive, “authentic Vermont” memorabilia that was made in China, I decided that I would need to be a little more creative.

It was during this time of desperate online searching for activities that I made the choice to complete one of my goals. I figured that since we were staying in a house surrounded by mountains, it would make sense to spend a few hours working my way through a goal. So one morning I enlisted my two brothers-in-law, Jason and Josh, to come along with me on my little expedition.

We went to a wetland area and began hiking towards the “Thundering Brooks Waterfall”. I knew that anyplace with such a rugged name would certainly involve a long hike up a mountain. I was giddy with excitement as I imagined myself scaling rocks and clinging onto tree branches to keep from being swept away by the “thundering” water. This was not the case. I am not sure if there were once “thundering falls”, but as of December 2015, the more apt description would be “trickling leak”. As I stood at the top of the small hill overlooking the rusted metal pipe from which water was weakly dribbling from, I knew that I could not count this as my hiking a mountain goal. So with this revelation, we headed back to the car.

Once we reached the car, we debated whether or not we should just drive back to the rental house. We knew that our options were to either spend the afternoon playing Wii Bowling or to find a real mountain to climb. Thankfully, we did not have to look very far, because there was a mountain right across the road from where our car was parked (we had somehow missed it when we drove to see the “waterfall”). So without further ado, we began our trek up the mountain.

During my hike up a mountain and the subsequent return to the bottom, I came to a few conclusions:

  • Mountains often look much smaller at their base than they really are. As we started hiking, we optimistically declared that it would take no more than thirty minutes to reach the mountain peak. After thirty minutes had passed, we knew that we had grossly underestimated the size of the mountain. Part of what made this hike seem so arduous was the fact that the “top” of the mountain is rarely the top. There were too many times to count during that hike when we thought that we had discovered the top of the mountain ahead of us, only to realize that it was just another bump in the massive mountain. After our third time reaching what we had thought would surely be the top of the mountain, we began to wonder if this mountain had no top and if we had entered some sort of purgatory.
  • It does not matter how good of a runner you are; a mountain will make you sound like you have never walked a day in your life. After about twenty minutes of walking, I began to sound somewhat out of shape. And when I say somewhat, I mean that I sounded like the person in a My 600 Lb. Life episode who is forced to walk down the hospital hallway following their gastric bypass surgery. I was gasping for air and had a face the color of a bowl of Ukrainian borscht. It was certainly humbling to realize that even if I can run with ease, there will be situations in which it is evident that I am not in as good of shape as I had originally thought I was.
  • The final lesson that I learned was that clouds are cold. Whoever coined the phrase, “Get your head out of the clouds!” was clearly worried about the safety of the person whose head was freezing in the clouds. After all of the hiking that we had done to reach the top of the mountain, we were incredibly sweaty and overheated. But once we got to the top of the mountain, we were quickly chilled by the cloud that encircled the mountain peak. It was not the most pleasant experience to have our sweat begin to freeze on our skin, but it was quite incredible to say that we were high enough to be surrounded by a cloud.

My completion of hiking to the top of a mountain was full of various trials, but it was unbelievably fun. Not only was I able to check a goal off of my 21-goals list, but I was also able to spend some quality time with my two brothers-in-law. I will probably not hike a mountain again in the near future, but I am happy to have been able to complete it. I mean, in the end, the whole point of having a list of goals is for me to push myself out of my comfort zone and experience new things.

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