No one said it was a vertical trail up Eagle Peak. No one told me you hiked single file for two miles. No one told me I wouldn’t be able to breathe or move. And it didn’t help that we ascended the mountain at noon. In July.
The sun’s rays peeked over the treetops of Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp around 6 a.m. Thirty-four of us stripped off layers of sweatshirts to warm up before our 13-mile hike to Eagle Peak Mountain. Sporting old, torn shorts, ridiculously long tube socks, a tie-dyed t-shirt and mud covered tennis shoes, I was fit for the challenge. I didn’t feel it, but I sure looked it.
As the hike dragged on, the rocks got wobblier, the sun got hotter and the oxygen disappeared. I kept tripping over loose rocks, and my skin turned from pale and pink to black and blue. Then I was on the trail. My footsteps started to slow and drag as each leg and foot muscle screeched in pain. Every part of me was dying for rest, and I couldn’t oblige. A sob escaped my mouth, and there He was. He had come from the front of the group to walk with me. And hand in hand we climbed that mountain.
I awoke after lunch to bees buzzing, crickets chirping and the wind carrying on a conversation with the pine trees. I dragged myself off the hard ground and plopped down to gaze out over the hills and trees to the horizon. The horizon reached right up and snatched the breath from my chest. The world fanned out in front of my tired eyes. That’s when it hit; in that moment, nothing else mattered. Not my messy, braided hair, my torn skin, my dusty clothes, my ruptured blisters and not even the jealousy and disappointment of not being able to peak the mountain.
God had come to sit next to me. He kept quiet and let me marvel at the beauty surrounding me. Peace flowed through my veins. A massive weight of loss and pain, frustration and anger all disappeared from my shoulders. I inhaled sharply, and my eyes opened to the world around me. Then it clicked. I suddenly realized life was about taking steps and breathing, even if my lungs can’t handle any more. It’s about taking that first step in order to make the journey.
I don’t like asking for help because I want to make the journey on my own. But I can’t always do that. It’s okay to ask for help. I know there will always be obstacles (like big rocks and trees) in my life, but even if I don’t feel like I can move another inch, it’s just another step. I just had to hike 13 miles and sit on the edge of a cliff to realize it.
Courtney Williams is a senior journalism major from Centennial, Colo.