I had a little mini breakdown at the trailhead this weekend. I’m not proud of it. It wasn’t a great moment. But it happened, so I’m owning it.
This is what happened: I forgot my socks. The socks I had so painstakingly packed to ensure my feet wouldn’t get new blisters. The wool socks and thin liner socks that would help keep my feet dry and hotspot-free. They were not where I had put them. And therefore, they were not in the car but in my overnight bag at The Boy’s house.
The thing is, the mountains are where I’m competent. I transition quickly. I know the trail. I know my limits and I push myself beyond them. I am on time. I am prepared.
But not this week.
The Boy was quick to solve the problem, though, and immediately suggested I wear his wool socks and he would wear his cotton pair. I was reluctant to get on board; he needed those socks, too. But if I didn’t comply, I wasn’t gonna be hiking. And that’s just not an option.
So I did it.
While I was putting duct tape on my heels in an effort to prevent further blisters, The Boy handed me his gray, wool Sasquatch socks. (I love these socks, btdubs.)
“Now you can hike with the power of the Sasquatch,” he said.
“I am the Sasquatch,” I grumbled back. And then I laughed.
There’s a meme floating around the internet these days. Something along the lines of:
The Devil whispered in her ear, “You cannot withstand the storm.”
She looked the Devil in the eye and said, “I am the storm.”
I’ve seen versions using The Warrior, and Spartan, but I’m not sure where it comes from. I suspect it’s popular right now because of our larger political climate and the women’s resistance movement. No matter where it comes from or how it got here, it speaks to me.
For my soul, the sentiment goes right alongside of the Fearless Girl facing off with The Bull in New York City’s Financial District.
“Nevertheless, she persisted.”
My feet handled the hike up Mount Si’s Old Trail in those Sasquatch socks like a champ. Don’t get me wrong, my feet were still sore, and there was a little more loose skin at the end than when I started, but they survived much better this week than they did last week. I’m still unsure if it was the duct tape or the socks.
Persistence is a theme on my mind as of late. Politics aside, hiking is HARD, you guys. This beginning of the season stuff is hard work. My feet are soft. My shoulders are weak. My diaphragm can’t expand enough for my lungs to bring in enough oxygen.
My legs… oh my legs.
I know that the best way to get conditioned for climbing a mountain is to, well, climb a mountain. I’m working on it. I’m getting there. But this is hard work. Some hikes are good and I get tired and worked over, but I enjoy feeling my body work hard and become stronger. That’s what hooked me in the first place. My body can do this. You see that mountain there? I climbed that. My body did that.
Other times, my brain gets the best of me. Even if my body handles it, my emotions and mind get beat down, and I wonder how I even ended up here. What am I even doing here on the side of this mountain in the freezing wind and snow, with burning lungs and soaked through? WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!
But that’s part of the process, too, isn’t it? The mind must be challenged. Any mountain climber will tell you, it’s not only your body that has to make it to the top, but your mind as well. When that little voice inside pops up and says, “Who do you even think you are, to do something like this?” You have to be able to say, “I am the Storm.” And then persist.
There must be a deeper reason for pushing your body. Whether it’s mental health, physical health, or something else, you have to be able to tap into your “why” in order to keep going. Otherwise, what are you doing there? What do you have to prove? And to whom?
When I get to the end of the summer, I will be able to look back at all the mountains I climbed, the miles I traveled, and the strength, both physical and mental, that I gained through the season.
I am weak and tired now. But I will persist.