Hi friends,

I mentioned on Sunday that I completed probably the most physically challenging activity in my life. A friend (I’ll refer to him as Yung Cedar) and I climbed 4500 feet, walked 14 miles and spent 9 hours in the Colonel Bob Wilderness in the Olympic National Forest. I still beam when I think about it.

I first heard about the trail through one of the (awesome) women I met during my internship. She came back to the office one afternoon excited about a trail she hiked (and tried to see if she beat our supervisor’s time). That made an impact on me because i) she just up and went on a seven hour hike in the middle of the day and ii) she was (is) a woman. That put Colonel Bob on my radar but I didn’t think too deeply about it.

Last week, the guys and I were feeling restless in the office and we weren’t being productive. We decided that the sun was telling us to go outside and try Colonel Bob. This was around midday and we had to get back in time for dinner. We decided to do the trail that would only be an eight mile round trip.

We got to the Colonel Bob trailhead feeling real hype. After dousing ourselves in bug spray, we gave ourselves four hours to make it there and back.  Two hours in – backs soaked with sweat, cursing at the incline, full from picking berries and ready to see some amazing views – we ran into a concerned older man who asked us if we planned to get to the summit before dark. We were on the seven mile trail. It’s a testament to our collective stubbornness because we would have kept going for a while longer if not for him. We turned back and scrambled down the hill to get back in time for dinner.

Completing the trail stayed on my mind. I wasn’t sure if the others wanted to go back so I was determined that I would do it on my own. I had something to prove – mostly to myself. I wanted to prove that even though I’m not completely outdoorsy, I am strong. I also wanted some time by myself so that I could process my thoughts. I needed to hike Colonel Bob. After doing research and seeking advice from friends, I was determined to slay.

Then Yung Cedar told me he wanted to come and I learned the first lesson the Colonel had to teach me. I thought that having him there would invalidate my experience. His request forced me to work through why I wanted to hike in the first place. If my goal was to show myself that I am strong enough to complete the hike, having someone along would not derail that goal. It would be a bonus because I’d be able to talk to a human person and not a Douglas fir.

Fam, it was intense. I'd love to give a play-by-play but I don’t have the time (trying to get as much work done so I can watch the Rio Opening Ceremony) and I don’t think I’m ready to relive all those switchbacks. It was clear that our goal of making it there and back in seven hours was wishful thinking and we just settled for making it there. There’s the initial pain when your body is warming up, then the endorphins start to kick in and you feel like every step is a victory, then in the last couple of miles to the summit, you’re at a point where your legs have been numb for four miles now and you have no choice but to keep going. The only thing that was going to stop me was if I walked right off a cliff.

The second lesson good ol’ Bob taught me was the importance of what I say to myself. Yung Cedar talked about how important that is in the gym when you’re working out or lifting weights. Even though I was dead tired, I knew I was going to make it to the top and I kept telling myself that. However, I did start to wonder if the view would be as amazing as people claimed.

It was.

After scrambling over the last bit, I was so relieved and overwhelmed and in disbelief that I just sat down. I was in awe of what we could see and in awe that I made it. To make it even better, we saw mountain goats on a cliff some distance away. Two majestic (and apparently invasive to the region) mountain goats. The entire experience was spiritual. I felt a lot more at peace with myself than I have for a while. 

The goats!

Once we ate (and took some sick selfies), we were ready to be back in the car and turn on the A/C. We flopped down the hill in glorious, uncoordinated fashion. If not for our boots, we’d be missing multiple toes. The only thing getting us down was the hope of drinking chocolate milk. Delirium was setting in and my reasoning for having a friend went through the window. I kept reaching out and thanking trees as we passed them. When we made it out of the bush and back to the sweet, sweet asphalt, I can truly say I’ve never been so happy to smell exhaust in my life. We got ourselves the chocolate milk and drove home to clean ourselves.

We took a snack break here - Mulkey Shelter

Oh snap dat me

It was more than worth it. The Colonel helped me confront the negative vibes I was getting caught up in. I can climb mountains and no one (not even me) can take that experience away.

The song is “Hills and Valleys” by Buju Banton.

Thanks for reading,

Leave a Reply

Keep them coming but keep them clean!

Keren Creates. Powered by Blogger.