Like many of you I'm sure, I've been overwhelmed these past few weeks with the news, both internationally and stateside. I've been trying to figure out how to discuss all of it here and, when I couldn't come up with anything, just avoided writing altogether.
Great skill that avoidance is, right?
So while I'm finally done avoiding my blog, I'm still not going to address the emotions and social unrest of recent weeks in any involved way, at least not right now while I continue to process, but I do want to say I really appreciated Brené Brown's related post today on choosing courage. And I'd like to offer up her words for thought.
That said, amid everything else, I have been plugging along on my #CouchTo14er journey. And it's hard to believe but I've got just four days until I climb Pikes Peak.
Since I last wrote on this topic, I've hiked numerous shorties, a handful of six-milers, including a high-altitude trek to Mohawk Lakes in Breckenridge, and the Falcon Trail, a 14-miler on the Air Force Academy property.
And here are a few things I've learned along the way:
1) Eye drops for long hikes, or good wraparound sunglasses, should be added to the must-have list.
2) Trekking poles rock. Seriously. They've helped my knees immensely, and they've given me a little extra confidence. I only use one, but it's like having a super sturdy third leg.
3) Bird feathers keep popping up during my treks. And I discovered the coolest website, the Feather Atlas, hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which helps folks like me and you identify found feathers.
4) Fourteen miles by yourself is a long distance. Many of you read my thoughts on possibly hiking the Peak alone. I decided not to do that, and after hiking the Falcon Trail alone, I'm glad. My friend Amber, who has hiked it about a dozen times (and competed in the Pikes Peak Ascent), will join me.
And last, but in no way least, I'm still iffy on how I feel about hiking in general — at least long-distance hiking. I haven't found a love for it, but I have come to appreciate its yogic and meditative potential. When the Falcon Trail got tough, I had no choice but to keep going. I couldn't just ring up a friend and ask her to come get me. I had to hike the whole thing back to my car. So what did I do? I focused on being present with each individual step. I stopped worrying about how long it was going to take, and how fast or slow I was moving. I breathed. In. Step. Out. Step. In. Step. Out. Step.
And I started chanting. So hum. Four miles of so hum. I am, all that is.
By the time I finished (about five hours total), my body really, really hurt. I was physically and emotionally drained. But I was also calm. Clear that I could make it to the top of Pikes Peak. Also clear that I may never hike that distance again, post-Peak.
And perfectly OK with all of it.