When my daughter was in Kindergarten, she gave me the courage to climb my first mountain.
I grew up in the Berkshires but until 2013 I had never been mentally or physically fit enough to explore any of the natural beauty I was surrounded by.
As I lost more and more weight and my endurance built up my walking regimen was becoming stale. One of my closest friends suggested hiking. He was an avid hiker. It was one of his favorite activities. He told me I would love it. He said my kids would too. He insisted my whole family would love hiking. He talked incessantly about the health benefits and the beauty and the adventures and the clarity hiking brought into his life. He told me which trails to go on and what paths to explore and talked about hiking so much I began feeling like I was an expert based on his stories alone. One day I decided I was just going to go for it. I was taking my daughter with me and we were going for a hike.
Pine Cobble mountain.
I don’t know why really other than the fact it was the spot I had heard people talk about most often.Well, besides Mount Greylock and I figured the highest mountain in Massachusetts was a bit too ambitious for a novice hiker. Also I knew how to get to the Pine Cobble trail head.
It was early April, a beautiful, perfect day for adventure and I was pumped. So was my daughter.
We were off!
I began to plot my friends death 20 minutes into the hike.
I will spare the excruciating details. Just know I was wearing sneakers with no tread, had no bug spray, no extra water, have NEVER hiked before and I had a 5 year old with me.
As we got closer to what I was praying would be the top after what seemed hours of hiking, the terrain became more and more dangerous. Rocks were jutting out from every angle. There wasn’t even an actual dirt path anymore, just rocks and ice and snow. I could see blue sky and felt that the summit was near but it just wouldn’t materialize. My feet were soaked, I was exhausted, I was scooping up snow to quench my thirst and I was in a shitty mood. I was cursing myself for being so stupid and beginning to wonder about our safety.
I said we had to turn back.
I mean, obviously we had to. I’m not sure how we made it as far as we did. We were so close but impossibly far. It was glare ice. I had vastly underestimated my hiking capability on the semi flat muddy incline that started the trail, never mind this ridiculousness . I couldn’t take it anymore.
My daughter kept going. Like a crazed mountain goat.
She refused to stop.
She did what children that age do and went about the task I was requesting for her to stop doing at a faster pace, ignoring my pleas.
We reached the summit not much longer after my determination to quit.
Was the view worth it?
Of course it was.
It was one of the more memorable and breath taking moments of my life. We were both stunned quiet. We sat there together, appreciating everything. The sky, the wind, the clouds,the hike, the work, the struggle, the pay off.
That was three years ago. I have hiked many times since then, taking on my fair share of trails and mountains. Physically and metaphorically.
My daughter has as well.
Today for the first time since that day she made it back to the top of Pine Cobble mountain. I wasn’t able to be with her, as much as I wanted to be.
She told me she got very tired but her friend encouraged her to keep going. Together, they reached the top.
Today I am thankful for the continued strength to keep climbing the mountains in our lives. And for those that help us along the trail when we need them most.