Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Hike

The first time I climbed Harney I was roughly 10. (...I think.) The only thing I really remember about that day was the fact that the last half-mile was entirely in the clouds, so I never got to see the view Mom and Dad had talked about. Luckily, to a 10-year-old brain, getting to run through the clouds is possibly even cooler than getting to see into Wyoming.

The next time, it was a huge obstacle. I was 12, I was carrying a backpack and therefore way more weight than my tiny body was used to (that's right, at one point I was tiny) and it was the longest walk of my life. Almost literally -- it took hours.

[Yes, if some of this is familiar -- I have talked about it before.]

Now, two decades after my first trip, it's a wander in the woods. An hour and a half-ish walk to a gorgeous stone tower at South Dakota's highest point. It's solid exercise but not the challenge I remember, even though now I carry all that additional weight on a more permanent basis than I did in 1996.

Don't get me wrong. It hasn't always been that way, even as an adult. At one point -- namely, when I was living 3,000 feet lower than I am now -- it was painful. And the times I climbed it in college occasionally involved some sort of dumb moves (forgetting water, trying to run up, climbing up for sunset only to realize none of us had brought flashlights, the numerous times we played "Beat the Storm" coming down). Eventually, it became ... just a hike. Sevenish miles of well-traveled trail with a truly eclectic group of people.

Moreover, I came to realize that not making it to the top is usually entirely on you. Sometimes the weather plays a part and sometimes there are extenuating circumstances (out-of-whack joints, for instance) but you rarely see people turn around halfway up. As soon as you decide not to psych yourself out ... it's completely doable.

Sure, it may take awhile. But it's doable.

And sometimes you even get the chance to take some pretty awesome pictures.

All photos are from yesterday. The first two are mine. This last one is courtesy of the Chef Lady ... It took several attempts. No hikers were harmed but several were amused in the process of taking this photo.

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