Today’s hike was grueling. I don’t mean it’s difficulty was hard, I mean every single aspect of this hike was hard. Physically, I struggled (largely due to the fact that I can’t stop binge watching Game of Thrones into the wee hours of the night and only got five hours of sleep). I took my first hiking spill, which was bound to happen eventually. Emotionally, I struggled – my head was somewhere else the second I stepped onto the trail. This hike tested my sense of security and sense of adventure.
About three and a half miles in to the hike, we realized we were still heading away from the car and wanted to start heading back. At this point, I was pretty done with day. I just wasn’t feeling any part of it. Usually I feel great being surrounded by the world and I do my best to appreciate the beauty of everything around me. Today, I just couldn’t stop thinking. I couldn’t stop thinking about the future, about how tired I was, and I couldn’t enjoy my moment away from it all like I usually can. We decided that we were going to off-road our hike and depart from the marked trails in order to b-line it back to the parking lot.
We made our way down from the trail and started cutting through meadows and over hilltops. The brush in the meadows sliced at my legs and I tripped and stumbled my way through it all. It reminded me of every show I’ve ever watched where one person is really quiet and stealthy in the forest and the other one is smashing their way down the hill. I felt like I was Hulk Stomping through the whole park. I’m clumsy by trade, but I just felt cumbersome and uncomfortable all day.
Then we got to a stream that we had to climb through. My shoes almost got sucked off by the mud in the bed of the stream. After ten minutes we had to wade through another muddy stream and army crawl under a fallen tree. At this point I’m covered in mud and tiny, bloody scratches and I don’t care anymore because it’s fun and we’re all laughing. We climbed over boulder crested hills and occasionally followed a trail we’d come across until we decided we were veering too far off course and would plunge into the trees again. At one point the Game of Thrones theme song started playing in my head on repeat. As if that’s not the worst omen ever.
My hiking companion’s were running out of water and the phone we were using to track our location died, but we just kept trekking on in the general direction we came from, knowing eventually we’d stumble upon the trail we started on. And, finally, we did! We made our way back up the trail and out to the parking lot and laughed about the adventure.
At some point everything that was bothering me fell away and one line of thought kept running through my head: What are you made of, Rachel? What kind of adventure do you want? Because this was hard. In the end, it was exactly what I needed it to be, even if I didn’t know it.
I’m going to make this whole thing a super cheesy analogy for life, but it got me through the day.
What kind of path do I want to take in life? Do I want to go down the path that is exciting and difficult, but already marked? Or do I want to go off-road and hulk stomp my way through the unknown, gathering bruises and dirt and scratches along the way?
I don’t know if I can answer that today. I do know that I’m pretty confident this whole journey is going to push me in one direction or another.