Have you ever finished a hike and said, ” This is the worst hike I’ve ever been on and I will never ever do it again.”
No? Yes? Well, I have never said those words.. until yesterday.
I’m actually angry about it. Like, really upset and frustrated.
Even if a hike is challenging I always feel like I’ve at least accomplished something. But not yesterday.
Even if a hike is slightly boring I always say , well at least I can check that one off my map. But not yesterday.
Even if I can barely move and every muscle aches I always feel proud I pushed myself to finish a hike. But not yesterday.
What in the world happened yesterday?
This rant is an attempt to figure out the answer to this question as I process through this hike with all you readers.
It might have something to do with the fact that I thought I had already completed this trail. I agreed to do it again because it is the premier hike to do in Flagstaff during the Fall. People from all over the country come to view the glorious array of color on display in Locket Meadow.
Seriously , look at a few of the photos I took yesterday .
The last picture looks like God is shining His spotlight on His marvelous handiwork.
How could it be possible that I would feel anything but awe?
Let me clarify; I was definitely in awe as I was walking through a thick carpet of golden leaves surrounded by such a vast variety of green and golden hues nearly blinding me with their radiance.
When people ask me my favorite color, I will now respond with a single word: October.
I digress, back to my anger.
The drive to get to this amazing Meadow involves a very long, curvy narrow road with blind corners and drop offs that would cause anyone a bit of anxiousness if forced to teeter on the edge to let another vehicle pass. Imagine what a drive like this would do to a already anxious driver with a fear of heights and a feeling of certain impending death ? If Visions of driving ( flying) over the edge happen at each and every curve in the road you can almost visualize my churning stomach, sweaty palms, rapid heart rate, and the flashes of my life playing over and over in my head.
Hmmm, the drive didn’t make me feel angry. Scared, yes. Angry, no.
Okay let’s cross that off the possible causes of my anger.
Back to the carpeted trail with its gentle but steady incline . My mind tried to take in all the beauty so I could later attempt to paint my interpretation on canvas when I returned home.
Way too soon the gentle carpet gave way to a dusty gravely road. Having done this before I was aware of the reward awaiting me at the top of this climb.
A large open Meadow with picturesque city wells and nestled around beautiful mountains.
Ahh, I’m at the beautiful Inner Basin.
Oh wait… the Inner Basin trail
doesn’t end here . I’ve always ended here. At this perfect place for a brief rest and snack before returning back down from hence I came.
No problem. I will really ,officially able to check the inner basin trail off my map when I complete the rest of this relatively short ( 4.3miles one way ) hike.
I’m not angry. It’s no big deal.Right?
Well… the trail continued just a bit before it rudely and abruptly took me out of this scenic serene Meadow onto an old Jeep road. Now, I don’t own a Jeep, but I’ve imagined how fun it would be. But this horrendous road could not possibly bring any joy. It basically feels like a boulder field that wants to do nothing but break your ankle. It goes in a very steep straight line….. it never ever ends! Nothing but rocks and dirt can be seen for 6,000 miles. Okay, maybe it’s only 2 miles.. but I’m telling you it’s endless. Yes, perhaps this is where my emotion starts changing into unhappiness . But I just keep telling myself this HAS to eventually end. Please. Please let this end. I’m staring at me feet willing them to continue and not get twisted or sprained or broken. Every time I break my eyes away from my feet I wobble and my eyes are only greeted by this endless road stretching above me into a bleakness of lost eternity. So I faithfully stare at my feet and will them to continue.
A slight glance up I see a sign ahead. My unhappiness and hopelessness begins to break.. Glory be.. the end is in sight. Literally.
But I was wrong .
The sign was merely directing me off the endless road into a forested part of the trail.
I believe the anger might have gotten real about here.” Are you kidding me???!!! It’s not over??!!! What? What??!”
At least I’m off that relentless endless torturous horrendous grunt road.
I like the forest. I do not like this trail in this forest. No end in sight. Once again. I climb and climb, lungs burning, ability to breathe lessening, desire to continue fading. There is NO way I’m turning around now. I am going to win. I am going to make it to the end. Wherever the end might be. If there is an end. Please let this end. This is never going to end, is it?
I am forced to stop to take a sip of water. Apparently I’m unable to walk and sip on water , I don’t have enough air in my lungs for both. I hate stopping. It just makes starting again harder.
What is that sound?
I think it’s me.
I’m pretty sure I’m growling. Or groaning . Whatever it is, it’s not pretty. I hope I’m not attracting wild animals.
I’m officially angry. I’m tired, I’m struggling, I’m going to keep pushing. What am I angry about? That I feel out of shape? That I don’t know when this trail is going to end? Am I angry at myself? The trail? My stupid goal of doing every hike on the map? Why does my goal now seem ridiculous? Did my map lie to me? Is this hike really 20 miles? Is this even worth it? Why in the world am I doing this?
There is an intersection ahead. A trail sign. What terrible news does it have for me?
It says ” Weatherford Trail”. I have now completed the Inner Basin Trail.
Relief, yes. Happiness? No.
Just another muttering under my breath as I throw my backpack down at the base of the sign.
” I am Never, ever going do this hike again. Ever”
I sit for a minute, maybe two. I can’t stand it. I have to get out of here and back down this trail. Maybe it will seem shorter going back. It was literally uphill the whole way. So all downhill from here. Yay. Get me out of here .
Hmmm. I’m at almost 11,000 feet elevation at this intersection. I’ve been on higher hikes before. But perhaps not at such a steep incline in so few miles. That is unless the map lied to me.
Downhill I go. There are places that require attention due to the steepness. I want to finish this hike back down, but not by tumbling down. Though a tempting thought to have it over with quickly.
I come to the old Jeep road . Well, I can breathe easier. But the footwork is still aggravating . Oh, this is as endless as it was going up it. On and on and on. Maybe I’m angry I’m not in a Jeep bouncing over these rocks. I now know it will end at some point. But seriously….. how can this road not be 100 miles long?
Finally back into the meadow. I feel a slight grin forming, I can see the painted desert in the distance. I can see the leaves sparkling, dancing in the sunlight. I see the aspens and pine trees creating a sight I can barely comprehend.
I’m back on softer footing, I’m led into a majestic path through a explosion of color.
Is there a life lesson here? Do I so quickly forget all the beauty when difficulties arise? Do I get angry when the beautiful things are momentarily out of sight? Do I not want to accept the bad with the good? Can I possibly appreciate the good or even recognize it if I have not be exposed to the bad. Do I get angry because things sometimes feel hard? Because things don’t go the way I think they should?
Things to ponder.
But I swear, I’m never ever going to do that hike again.. at least not the hard part,
No. Never again.
Maybe I haven’t really let the life lesson sink in yet.
But don’t be a angry hiker.