Ain’t no mountain high enough

5 May

It’s funny when I think of how my idea of a great weekend has changed over the last few months. Forget bars, forget late nights, forget sleeping in. Cue early morning runs, hours at the gym and 5Ks. This past weekend was a weekend without a race. So instead of running, I climbed a mountain.

Now, when my friend P told me about this mountain he was very clear that it was a big, big mountain. I was excited. When we turned the corner and he pointed in the distance to the mountain it still seemed HUGE to me, even though I had been prepared for how huge it was, and I laughed. It just struck me as amusing that this was a really big mountain and we were about to climb it.
But still, even after realizing that this mountain was a beast, I was picturing a hike on a quiet dirt trail created for people like us who think nice hikes are a perfect way to spend a Saturday. Maybe a babbling brook or two, even. A scenic little path in the woods. I didn’t even realize that I had this vision in my head until I saw the actual “path” and it looked like this:

Yes, that is a picture of the trail we were following. Can’t see the trail, you say? Why that is because no element of nature was disturbed in the creation of this trail. Someone just went around with some white spray paint and randomly decided the least-lethal way for people like us to get up the mountain and back down again.

But, honestly, this didn’t scare me. Bring it, Mt. Monadnock. I was totally up for it, and this ass whooping in the making was looking like a gorgeous little Saturday. While I’ve given myself over to the fact that I like running and like going to the gym, I have to say that there’s something much more wonderful about exercising with nature as your backdrop and friends by your side. It feels less like exercise, and more like fun. And while I get pretty pumped when I run, the feeling of reaching the top of a mountain definitely wins, hands down. The sight of the finish line sometimes makes me want to cry, but the sight from the top of the mountain took my breath away…or maybe it was just the hike to get there that took my breath away…In any case, it was spectacular.

What occurred to me was that six months ago, while I would have been able to do this, I wouldn’t have been able to do this well. I was beating P’s ass up that mountain, something he had predicted but I wasn’t so sure of. Realizing how capable I was of climbing that mountain was a great feeling. At one point during the hike up, P said “You seem like an athlete right now. You were definitely never an athlete in high school, but you’re one right now.” That made me smile. Having known me since we were 12, he knows as well as I do that “athlete” is for sure a word that has never, ever, ever been used to describe me during the first 26 years of my life. Neither was “thin”, another adjective he used to describe me that morning. Both these things are just nice to hear. I know I’m at a point right now where my vision of myself hasn’t quite caught up to the present. While I’m learning to graciously accept a compliment, my first reaction is to think that people are just being nice- I’m not actually athletic; I’m not actually thin. I don’t know why this is my reaction, it just is. Except that P, probably more than most people I know, is not the type to say something he doesn’t mean just to be nice. He’s also well-qualified to know when I look good, having seen me at my best (all dolled up for prom, graduation, weddings and such) and at my worst (pjs, ponytail, glasses, no makeup and a tear-streaked face, drinking too much wine and crying over some stupid boy). I gave him honorary Bumble Bee status for the day–no, not just because he called me thin– but because we had fun while totally kicking some butt and flying up and down that mountain like rock stars. Or, like bumble bees.

I’ll admit that going down wasn’t as smooth as going up. Actually it was a little nerve-wracking at some points. I think I said “Omigosh I almost just died” approximately 15 times after tripping/slipping/sliding on the rocks. We did get slightly off track for about a minute and would still be lost on that mountain and resorting to smoke signals to ensure our rescue if we followed my sense of direction and not his. Oh, and my nose was running like crazy and I had to give in and “borrow” his handkerchief after staunchly refusing to blow a snot rocket (I might be climbing a mountain but I’m still a girl). But it was a fabulous kind of nerve-wracking, off-track, nose-blowing experience. We weren’t even back to the car before we were planning the route we would take next time, on another, new-kind-of-perfect Saturday.

4 Responses to “Ain’t no mountain high enough”

  1. Rookie on the Run May 5, 2009 at 2:32 am #

    In addition to being an athlete and thin, you are an excellent writer!!

    Your hike sounds wonderful! I <>love<> being in the mountains and hiking. I think I love it more than running (but shhhhh… don’t tell any other running bloggers).

    The view from the top must have been even more amazing in person.

  2. Kelly May 5, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    Wow! Congrats on conquering that mountain. It looks so beautiful!

  3. Dani May 5, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    That is awesome!!! The pictures are beautiful!

  4. Ali May 20, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    Great pictures, that trail looks beautiful …. very jealous.

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