A few weeks ago, I ditched work one afternoon and went for a hike at Lake 22. It was not a contemplated move, I just felt to get out for an adventure the same way Ishmael felt he needed to go the sea.
It was a cloudy day, not great for the views but perfect for a workout
The first 40 minutes felt like a breeze. The trail was largely flat and well maintained, walking through towering old growth forests and occasionally treading past shallow streams felt like a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.
An hour into the hike, the trail gave way to intimidating switch-backs littered with large boulders and sharp-edged rocks. The easy stroll through the park quickly became a quagmire. With the difficult terrain and the elevation, my breath began to run short, my legs felt sorer and sorer, sweats started to drip into my eyes. I felt my brain getting hot and bloated, eyes irritated by the sweat. Thoughts of giving up started to creep in, little voices whispering at my ears:
“I’ve already came all this way, it is a good enough workout.”
“The weather isn’t that great, the view will probably be washed out. It doesn’t feel it’s worth the effort.”
“I’ve been to the lake before, it is beautiful but not out of the world, I don’t need to put myself through this just to see it again.”
“These boulders are so hard to get through, imagine the pain getting down later. Maybe I should just head back.”
“My water supply is running low, maybe I should call it quit.”
I constantly checked the GPS on my phone trying to see how much further the trail goes. The staircase of boulder seemed to go on forever while the blue dot on the map barely moved. I badly wanted to give up, I stopped looking for reasons to continue, but seeking affirmations to turn back.
The barely moving blue dot
Boulder littered switch-backs
I began to take breaks more and more frequently. Finally, I sat down under a piece of shade, staring into the distant mountains, and getting ready to go back. A couple of travelers passed by. They were coming down from the lake. They nodded and smiled, I smiled and nodded back, no words exchanged. Minutes later, I packed up my stuff and resumed my journey to the top. That was the last break I took.
I reached the lake 40 minutes later. Just as I was trying to convince myself to give up, the view was just ok. Without the sun, everything was grey and washed out. Yet, I felt a strong sense of joy anyway. The normally light green lake turned to a deep emerald color, patches of late summer snow were still visible. A few people were fly fishing along the shore. ‘Hah, got one!’ One person shouted suddenly. A beautiful rainbow trout was reeled in, they took a picture with it and let it back into the lake. I circled lake and was on my way home.
Midway is the hardest #
The mid-point of any journey always seems to the toughest. It is a place where we have gone far enough that we think we know what we are doing, but not yet far enough to really see it. In fact, it is a place or time where we are most confused.
Be the wind for someone else #
At the time, I did not know why I continued when I already made up my mind to give up. I only realize later it was that silent encounter with that group of strangers gave that necessary lift.
Although not a word was spoken, the gentle nods and smiles conveyed more than what was neccessary to lift me out of the ‘mid-journey blue’. They were the wind that carried me. I’m sure there are many winds like this in life. It could be an insightful book, a soulful song, a lover’s kiss, a mother’s hug, a father’s tap on the shoulder, or a simple nod from a stranger.
Be someone else’s wind. Either through our work or just our very beings. Small acts of goodness go a long way.
Don’t give up, but it’s not about the destination either #
I came home feeling happy and content that day, not from the lackluster scenery or the less than ‘thrilling’ adventure, but the fact that I did not give up. If we always give up, we won’t know what not giving up taste like. Sometimes, the reward of being persistent is far more enjoyable than the result of persistence.
July 2023, Lake Twenty-two