Gene and I are over seventy. I guess that makes us officially “old.” But we’re not. Except for the arthritis that’s hurts most days, we’re still very active and engaged in our community. But we were tested a few days ago when we went hiking around Mt. Baker.
On our last day, we went on a hike without reading about it first. Heliotrope Ridge took a while to get to by car. But the views of Mt. Baker made it worth it. We were so uplifted by the calm beauty all around us that we were inspired to stay there and go hiking. But we should have read the book first.
It was grueling from the beginning. A hiker on the way back gave me hope: “This is the worst part!”
I thought she meant just this stretch, but I soon found out she meant the whole two miles in. Mostly up.
Gene and I walk almost every day. Nice relaxing flat walks on our beach or along the peaceful road on Camano Island. But we can’t do much elevation, certainly not 1200 feet. I have COPD and his lungs are even more shot than mine.
It took us a long time, but we made it. I was pretty miserable huffing and puffing all the way up, and so was he. Even coming down I was in a bad mood, this time complaining about my knees and my broken toe.
Well, I learned the difference between happiness and joy. I was not happy by the surface discomforts of going on a strenuous hike. But I came away feeling joyful: joyful that I pushed ahead without turning back; joyful that I accomplished something difficult; and most of all, joyful that I could dig deeper into my core and convert a challenge into a valuable lesson.
What did I learn? That I’m stronger than I thought I was. And I still have lots of living and growing to do.