This weekend I took a hike through the Eno River State Park by myself. I was excited to wander through the same trails I’d visited countless times with my family years ago. Though nervous about my trail following skills (especially hiking solo), I convinced myself that the little painted trail dots along the way would be more than sufficient. I was expecting a nice hike through the woods, with a few inclines and maybe some crowds, boy was I wrong on ALL accounts. It was an awesome hike, a BIG incline, and next to no people. Perfect
On my 4 mile hike, I passed 10 people total. TEN. It was marvelous. I felt completely removed from civilization. I also had a bad case of dog envy as about 5 of those 10 people had pups in tow *sigh*. I forged ahead, loving every second of the complete and utter silence. I was quietly shuffling my feet through the fresh fallen leaves when I started to notice a slight incline. I looked up only to see this HUGE hill before me. It was so steep in fact that some 4x4s were placed in the ground along the way up in order to give hikers some footholds.Granted, this hill was merely a bump compared to real mountains, but it still surprised me with its unassuming mass.
I groaned a little to myself, then weighed whether or not I REALLY wanted to see the “old mill” at the end of the trail. Deciding that I needed a goal, and that turning around halfway through a LOOP made no sense, I forged ahead. I will admit, by the time I reached the top I was huffing and puffing a little bit. It was a good 20 minutes before I stood at the peak (the hill had an initial steep incline, which then leveled off some for a more gradual climb to the top). I took a moment to enjoy the view, and then took many more moments wandering the top of the hill.I didn’t come across anyone throughout the climb. There are therefore no witnesses to contest my story of sprinting to the top with nary a pause–oh wait, I already admitted to huffing. Ignore that bit.
I felt quite accomplished at the top of the hill, but when I got to the other side, I remembered there was a long way down. Now when kids see hills, they seem to have this natural instinct to sprint full speed all the way down. I know you’ve seen this: their arms flailing, their legs spinning so fast you think surely they will fall, and smiles as big as the hill they are running down. I call this the”crazy run.” There’s no thinking, calculating, worry or fear in their run. They release all inhibition and just crazy run. Adults are much more controlled in their approach. We have this healthy dose of the injury-potential reality that is a downhill run.
Being an “adult,” I started my calculated descent doing a side shuffle walk thing. I precariously dodged the rocks and stumps and snailed my way down the first part. Suddenly it hit me how much more time-efficient it would be if I picked up my pace. I had this flashback to ten years ago where my sister and I would race down the hills, calling back to our Dad to hurry it up. At that moment I threw adultness out the door and crazy ran the rest of the way down. I flailed my arms, launched myself over stumps and roots, and smiled the biggest smile ever as I stumbled my way to the bottom of that hill.
When I reached flat ground once again, I slowed my momentum back down and glanced over my shoulder. All of a sudden the hill that seemed SO hard and HUGE when I was climbing up it, seemed so peaceful and fun after running down it. Sometimes the big hills in life can obscure the tranquility and reward that awaits on the other side. It’s so easy to get frustrated and fed up with huffing and puffing your way to the top of the mountain, when you really have no assurance that there even IS something worthwhile on the other side. I guess that’s where faith comes in. Faith that your work is never in vain and that every hill climbed is one less ahead of you. And if all else fails, you can always go for a crazy run. I promise you’ll smile.