Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mountain Madness part 1: Going UP

- A group of women at a retreat near the Pocono Mountains
- A clear blue sky
- Brisk, spring breezes
Combine at low speed with a large block of free time and you have your recipe for a long mountain hike.

This city girl was all set to stay in at the quiet, roomy lodge. Y’know: relax, perhaps do a DVD workout, read, or watch a movie. Somehow the idea of a hike, which was furthest from my mind as a free time activity, made it into the realm of possibility and I surprised myself when I agreed to join the group on the “Nature Trail.”

The first stage of this trail walk was the path UP. Hmmm: “Nature Trail.” It sounded safe. It sounded like it was only slightly adventuresome. It sounded like a slow but steady trek along a clearly defined flat path where I could possibly view interesting grasses, flower buds, or an unusual bird or two. It sounded safe, I thought.

About twenty minutes into the walk, my panting and sweating confirmed that there was nothing flat about this trail. While picking across some rocks alongside the stream, I wanted to stop and really look at the beauty around me. But I couldn’t. Why? There was quite a way to look—DOWN. I finally admitted to my fellow hikers that I’m afraid of heights, especially these kinds of heights, where a slight misstep or unstable rock could send one of us careening into the depths below.

Suddenly, I was surrounded. Both in front of me and behind me, a couple of women watched my steps and gave lessons along the way. It was too late to go back; too late to change my mind, and so I would press forward, but with help this time. Suggestions and techniques were stated clearly: “Stay on the balls of your feet when going up.” “Make sure your foot is steady and grounded before moving the other foot.” “Make sure you take small steps.” “Walk sideways if you need to.”

Like life, we find ourselves on adventures we hadn’t anticipated. We may be surprised at the effort it takes to travel a seemingly flat trail when instead it becomes a rocky terrain to get to the next yellow tree marker. When I admit my fears, like in this case my fear of heights, the help I need comes easily. My fellow hikers, who I think were part-women-part-mountain-goats shared tips for my journey to make it safer and easier for me. For that, I’m grateful. This trip on the “Nature Trail” became a new adventure and a reminder that I can still learn lessons while going uphill on this mountain of life.

Tip of the week:
To stick to your exercise routine, plan it a week in advance and write your plan on a calendar. Then you simply need to check your plan and start moving, without having to think about it. I use the ‘mile system’ with Leslie Sansone’s DVDs and decide how many miles I’m doing each day, and which day or two I have off.

1 comment:

Where Books Begin said...

Hiking is dangerous. Didn't Camilla Parker Bowles break her leg on a hike last week? But I thought you did great on the steep shores of the Lehigh River today, talking twenty five miles an hour (and brilliantly too) while we walked about three miles an hour on the cobblestones.