Climbing mountains looks glamorous but it can be daunting. I cannot begin to explain the mental perseverance it takes to keep going when I am tired or scared and just want to give up. It takes so much mental energy to succeed that ALL other worries are left behind at the trailhead and after the climb seem so small or non-existent. This is the power that mountains have on my mental health.
“Getting high” in nature is my favorite thing and has the ultimate capability to ground me so I forget my problems. This photo I call the “Celebration of a successful summit.” My friends and I sat briefly and mindfully after scaling a peak a couple of weeks ago. It was 7.7 miles round-trip, with close to 5,000ft in vertical elevation gain. We did climbed it in 6 hours.
I know that seems fast and it’s a good clip, but let me tell you how many miles and elevation I put on before this climb to get ready for it. My friends Kara, Suzi and I have been hiking the local mountain trails since Covid-19 hit in March and they shut down the ski areas. We actually have been hiking the M trail at the base of the Bridger Mountains all winter, in the dark with headlamps.
I have been training my heart out in preparation for my upcoming Grand Teton climbing trip. Kara had climbed it last year and has taken me under her wing so that I can succeed this year. We have been bagging peaks around once a week. Dubbing it the summer of “peak a week.” Summer in Montana is short, but so lusciously sweet to nature lovers like myself. I love, love, love wandering along trails with wildflowers and views that knock your socks off. I have found my joy of climbing to the peak of mountains this year.
The pattern is always the same. I start out fresh and excited. I look at the destination in the distance and think, holy shit, I’m not going to make it. This is going to be hard. Maybe, I’ll just turn around, wait at the car and drink my stash of brews, wait for the girls to go up and be done. Once I start, the views open up and I soak in the surrounding beauty of wildflowers, grasses and distance peaks. Then the wave of doubt comes in when the trail steepens. “Oh good Lord, when will it end, the pain, the push to keep going.” I cuss a lot during these times and fight the skepticism that sits on my tongue. Then the dialogue changes to: “Why the F do I do this to myself? Why did I think this would be FUN???? What part of this is fun? Goodness I am so tired!”
Then I take another step, catch a second wind. The peak becomes closer, and closer, until I take the final steps onto the peak. I look around, sigh with relief, take a deep breath and sit down. I made it, for no real reason, except my love of being in the wilderness, obtaining that feeling of empowerment, building resilience and mostly persevering until I got to the top.
The trip down is typically swift, and seems much easier. There is still pain depending on the steepness or the length, but the feeling of accomplishment never dwindles. It lasts through the night and into the week. That feeling if I can do that, I can do anything! The worries, anxiety, stress levels have disappeared or at least dissipated into something less. My energy, creativity is back and I feel like I’m ready to tackle the world.
About Diana – Owner of Your Adventure Rx
If you thought you couldn’t do it, think again. If you hang out with us for too long you’ll start believing in yourself and leave knowing you can accomplish anything. Diana is an Adventurer, Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist (CTRS), worked as professional outdoor recreation educator for people with and without disabilities for the last 20 years, traveled to over 20 countries and is also certified in Wilderness First Aid. She climbed many mountain peaks, biked numerous trails and paddled all around the world.