Friday, August 16, 2013

A Humbling Experience

It's rare that I write a Friday post, and I could save this for next month-- but I don't want to.  On Tuesday, Jason and I grabbed my friend Jessica from work and decided we were going to hike from Multnomah Falls to Larch Mountain.  UP.

A lot of people told us we were crazy. "People usually go the other way."  That's what we heard from the Multnomah Falls volunteers, other hikers and even friends.  But, we were all determined that we could make it up.  And as for Jason and I, we considered this hike our preview of South Sister later this fall.

We set out mid-morning in two cars, we had planned to have a shuttle from the top to the bottom once we were done.  There was no way I was doing the 15.8 mile round trip hike.  So we parked the cars, strapped backpacks on, leashed up Khloe and made our way through the crowd at Multnomah Falls.

Things got difficult for me from the start.  After hiking past the bridge, I started huffing and puffing like I had never done this hike before.  It took me several stops to make it the one mile up to the top of the falls.  And I should have known I was pushing myself maybe a little too hard at that point, but I was determined to make it to the top of Larch Mountain.

We walked up past the top of Multnomah Falls--  and up Multnomah Creek to the junction with the Larch Mountain trail.  I continued to struggle to find a steady breathing pattern, and would occasionally stop to catch my breath.  But I would quickly catch up to the other two.

We meandered through the old growth forest, next to a beautiful mountain creek and across several forest bridges and up the mountain.  The farther we went, it seems like the more frequent stops I had to make.  I could not catch my breath and it was starting to worry me.

After mile 5, I was beginning to hunch over and take longer breaks to get my rapid heart rate down.  I knew that I was holding everyone back, and I felt bad about it.  Jason and Jessica were determined to finish this hike in under 3 hours.  But as hard as I tried, I couldn't seem to do anything to speed myself up.

During one of my longer stops, something strange happened.  After a minute of slow breathing, a GIANT fly came and buzzed around me... annoying me to no end, and forcing me to move on just to get away from it.  This continued to happen as I painfully climbed up the mountain.  Every time it seemed like I stopped for too long, this damn fly would come and push me forward.  This could have been a coincidence, or not.  But I believe someone was trying to push me to finish.  And I'm thankful for it, because I did it.

We made it to the top in just under 4 hours... and got to take in this view!

We also got to see Mount Rainier, near Seattle.  Our camera just couldn't capture it through the haze.  This is the first time I've been to Larch Mountain when all but one mountain (Mount Jefferson) was out to see.  I guess you could say it was my reward for finishing.

We climbed more than 4,000 feet to the top.  I've got to say, I'm incredibly proud of myself for making it.  But I also learned something incredibly valuable about my physical limits.  Out of the three of us, I was the one carrying the most weight.  318 pounds.  And I guess I didn't realize that my weight was going to make things difficult for me so much until we set out on this hike.

Jason and I talked about it more at dinner that night.  After losing 41 pounds, I am exactly where he started, weight-wise, in March.  It's true.  And though I feel better and am happy with the progress I've made... I am not in the same place, physically, that he is.  I asked him if he thought he could climb 4,056 feet in 4 hours when he was where I am... and he said, no.  That made me feel a little better, I have to admit.

Tuesday's hike made me realize I have a long way to go before I can be as physically active as I feel.  And though it's difficult for me to admit, I'm not Wonder Woman.  I have to build myself up physically, to be able to do some of the things I want to.  Like hike South Sister.  And I've decided that come September, I'm going to sit myself out of the summit hike.  At least until I get a bit stronger.

I felt incredibly weak hiking to the top of Larch Mountain on Tuesday.  And though I finished, and am proud of my accomplishment... climbing another mountain will have to wait until I drop another 60 pounds.  And guess what folks, I'm ok with that.  If this challenge taught me anything, it is that I am capable, I am strong and I will get there.  I'm just going to need to listen to my body a little bit more and realize when I need to sit something out.

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