Descending from the Summit: Final Thoughts on Timpanogos.

While sitting on the top of the mountain I felt alive and accomplished, I had made it to the top and nothing had stopped me. I had worked through doubt, tired muscles, and a small bit of pain but I was her and nothing else mattered. We spent around 15 minutes on the summit before we began our journey back to the car. As many know the ascent is only half the journey, you have to make it back to the car and back home. So we began heading back down the mountain talking about the epic meal we were going to eat once we arrived back home. 

As we walked we passed people who were on their way up, they looked tired, with doubt in the eyes of some and a fire in the eyes of others. Had I looked that way? Could you see my discomfort on my face just an hour before as I trudged my way up to the summit? I believe so, because that was a challenge for me to complete. Yet, I had made it and now was on my way down so I was in better spirits trying to send encouragement and a smile to those going up because I felt that anyone could summit at this point. 

What is always interesting to me about any descent is how often I seem to slip or stumble. Sometimes it’s because my tired feet don’t move as they ought to be and other times I just don’t choose the best place to step. On the way down my friend and I both stumbled and slid about because the trail down seemed a bit more slippery than the trail on the way up. I have hope that others besides me experience this a little here and there. I also think that it makes the journey back to the car a bit more enjoyable or unpredictable for tired bodies and minds. 

Our dogs did extremely well on this hike, they kept going and never failed to find fun along the trail. They helped us to laugh when we needed it, and made friends all along the way with other hikers. Time spent outdoors is only enhanced by dogs and their personalities to me, ever since my dog started joining me on hikes my outdoor adventures have been more light hearted and cheerful despite the struggles. 

As you may have already guessed we made it back to the car in good spirits and grateful we had spent a few hours in the wilderness on a grand adventure. Our dogs too felt the relief when they climbed into the backseat and were sleeping in a few short minutes.

I learned that day that even if I am not always prepared to accomplish a task that I still have the ability to do that task in my own way and find success in doing so. We were not the fastest along our journey but we still made it to the summit and back to the car in good time. If you are not sure what you can accomplish pick a goal that stretches you a little outside of your comfort zone and go for it. Find your Timpanogos and summit it. 

Summiting Timp: The Way Up.

We arrived at the Timpooneke trailhead at half-past seven ready to start our trek to the higher elevation. Our dogs jumped out of the car with eager paws and noses ready to trot their way through the forest smelling every scent they might cross. As we began my muscles felt tired and slow, stretching a little along the way. Around one mile up we stopped and stretched and things started feeling a bit less rusty and a little more fluid with each step I took up the trail.

It’s funny how you believe you are in great physical shape till you do something that you do not usually do. I personally know I am not in the best shape but I hike often yet have found myself a little heavier than I have been, a little weaker, and a little more out of breath on this hike than I would have liked. As my legs trembled and my lungs ached I chatted with my friend about life, it’s ups and downs, and the outcomes of decisions made and yet to be had. 

One thing that makes sense to me is hiking, no matter the pain, the conversations, or the views I see hiking makes sense to me. As we traveled up the trail we’d cross snowfields of various sizes that our dogs would eagerly relax and play in as they loved the cooling feeling of the snow on their paws and as they roll around aside from the beauty around and the conversations with my friend watching the dogs play was what kept me entertained when my feet didn’t want to move any further. 

As all adventures go we pressed on at a good pace winding through the trees and the switchbacks, feeling the sun on our necks, the wind in our hair, and seeing the beauty that was created a little at a time over thousands of years. I always fail to forget how beautiful the hike up Timpanogos is with its overlook of the valleys and mountains to the north and sense of wilderness to the south as you hike towards the summit one step at a time. 

Hometown.

This past weekend I went home for about twenty-four hours and visited my family. It was a quick visit and one that was needed, nothing recharges my battery more than a quick trip home to the farm and the town just west of it. I grew up in a small farming community in central Utah that hasn’t changed much over the past few decades. It retains the same feeling for me when I think about it, Home.

I’d never say that my hometown is perfect it’s been riddled with its fair share of trouble and controversy over the years but who’s hometown doesn’t have its own quirks and problems. This is the place where I experienced many firsts and many lasts, where I learned not to steal, and the value of a reputation. This is the community that could come together in the blink of an eye when tragedy struck, and one that will pull out the fire trucks to welcome state champion athletes back into town anytime day or night.  A community surrounded by folks who were always willing to lend one another a hand as needed.

A wonderful place to have been raised and taught how to do so many things at different times growing up I was a pizza maker, grocery bagger, shelf re-stocker, assistant to youth with disabilities, a farmer, a rancher, and best of all a teenager. Living in our small community was a challenge at times too, I was thirty minutes from the nearest TacoBell, Mcdonald’s, and Walmart. An hour from the nearest mall, two hours from the nearest airport, and another hour from the nearest ski resort.

When we were bored we had to decide what to do, we usually ended creating our own fun skating around town, running around the foothills, or getting together at a friends house for movies and games. If we had a bit of extra pocket money and permission we’d jump into a car and head to Walmart or the mall just to stroll around and look for more fun to be had. If we couldn’t keep ourselves busy someone always knew work that needed to be done at someone’s house or farm so work was another alternative. What a place to be a teenager.

I love my hometown. It’s quiet, you can see the stars, the mountains aren’t that far away, and people are generally nice to each other. I loved being raised in the middle of nowhere and love driving there to this day. I love knowing the people I do and the impact they had on my life, because of the size of our community you got to know so many people and often had the opportunity to learn from them if you took the chance.

My hometown rocks.

Old: Addition.

The other day I wrote about growing old and how I’m afraid to grow old because of all the things I love about life will come to a close. I felt fairly confident about my writing that night because of the book I was listening to at the time was heavily influencing how I felt while writing and thinking about aging. Listening to the secret diary of Hendrik Groen was a great way to see what life will become, the ups and the downs of aging, making friends in your older years, and understanding the death that comes to us all.

I was feeling extremely down about it all, not overly optimistic as I usually tend to feel about life. You might even say that I was wondering what my future holds when I’m reaching my sunset years, I’m afraid of the crooked man I could become. A friend reached out to me and reminded me that growing old holds more than just falling apart and expiring when it is your time. Aging includes two additional parts that had slipped my mind whilst writing, How much you’ve learned over a lifetime and how your perspective will shift about what’s important and what isn’t as important as we thought it would be. My friends feedback inspired me to add this addition to my post from Thursday, March 7th.

Thinking about how much you’ve learned when you’re older will be quite the look back on life. Knowing where we have come from and the seasons of life we have lived through will be quite the look at semi-modern history. I personally will have lived through the 9/11 attacks, the war on terrorism that has spread from Afganistan, Iraq, and Syria. I’ve experienced the first African American president in the  United States, the rise of the internet and many more things that are yet to shape the world we will live in when I am older.

I’ll have experienced many phases of education, marriage, employment, home ownership, and recessions of the economy. Life will have had plenty of lessons learned that will have shaped my world viewpoint at that time.

Once I’m there my life perspective will be a bit different than it is now. I might finally see my glass as full or overfilling with everything I’ve lived through that I may finally want to sit down and rest for a bit. What is important to me in the future might differ slightly than it what is important to me now but I hope that I still value relationships with friends and family, good food, and a few adventures that may need to happen in an electric scooter. I hope that what is important has changed a little too, I hope by the time I’m older I spend less time trying to impress others with what I hope they want to see and hear and more time speaking my truth. I hope that part of growing old arrives sooner than back troubles and aalzheimers.

News.

We hear it left and right the worlds biggest influencer that is updating and sharing stories non stop the news. It’s always updating us on what went wrong today, who was hurt, who is on trial, and sometimes what good is happening in the world. The news fulfills our desires to be informed then keeps updating its stories and drawing us back in for more. The news can be used for sharing good deeds but is often used to sway public opinion towards one viewpoint or another. Often this results in varied opinions about what is happening around us and where we stand on different sides on an occurrence.

We listen to the various stories adding our personal bias and joining with the side of a story that fits our bias best. You can look up one photo of a current event and find stories told from five different angles and a hundred different photographed points of view. Newsagencies know that to attain and keep readers they need to tell a story with passion, a few facts, and a small cliffhanger of what could be happening next. This cliffhanger often keeps readers, listeners, and watchers interested and interacting with the story as told by their favorite agency and building their opinions often based on one-sided research.

What the real challenge today is admitting that our biases cause us to stand in one section of thought or another. It is a rare case when someone can stand evenly between two or more schools of thought and belief and say they either understand, can relate, or would like to learn more about an another’s train of thought on a controversial subject without subjecting their own bias into the conversation. We often join with like-minded people in order to hear thoughts and ideas that match our own and validate our thoughts and feelings.

We struggle to join in friendly conversations or debates about politics, policy, and beliefs at times because we are inclined to be invested emotionally into these topics and it’s uncomfortable to have our beliefs challenged by others. These conversations can be uncomfortable but are well worth the investment of our time if we are willing to listen, speak clearly with confidence, and accept that others may not see our values as their own.

Listening to the news is a great way to become informed and to be aware of current events that are happening around the world. Just try and listen to multiple news sources to see the story from more than one biased angle.  

Risk.

Whenever I’m out exploring the great outdoors I understand that there is a general amount of risk that needs to be understood as I seek out places that few see in person. Knowing that risk is an ever-present weight to be balanced and measured is a good reminder to be sure your next steps are in the right direction. Risk can be taken in adventure, day to day transit, business, school, and relationships. By understanding what risky behaviors can be taken appropriately we can do our best to know that the risks we may take can payoff positively for us.

As a natural born risk taker, I’ve always walked the fine line between smart risk and reckless risk. There was a goal I had to learn how to balance atop a fence about five feet off the ground and about 150 yards from my parents home. I understood what could happen if I learned the skill I needed to walk the line, I would be able to brag about my superior balance and have a skill that few have. If I was unsuccessful I could fall and break any number of bones and hurt myself in other ways. I knew I would fall, I expected it and that understanding made the challenge a little easier to start and helped me balance the risk to reward from my little venture.

I practiced this balancing act for years at times only making it a foot or two before bailing off one side of the fence or the other or take a sudden slip and ending up bouncing to the ground without a moments notice. As the years added up so did the number of feet I was able to balance and the number of times I became closer to succeeding at my little conquest to balance the entire fence. I only made the entire fence one time, one time that has taught me countless lessons in life balance and perseverance since.

Along with those two great assets under my belt I also learned how to manage the risk I was deciding to take every time I climbed the fence and began my balancing act. I learned to avoid walking the line if it had just snowed or rained a wet metal bar isn’t so grippy and you will either end up in mud or snow. Watching the weather was key to a good session on the bar, the wind was not your friend either. Wearing the right footwear is key to being able to walk the greatest distance, wearing boots or shoes with bad traction is a bad choice, wearing shoes that are muddy, shitty, or wet are also a guarantee that you’ll fall faster than you’d intended.

This childhood experience is a simple lesson in goal setting, perseverance, trial and error, and risk management. Can the lessons I learned from my years walking the fence from the farm to the house be used today? Absolutely, I can weigh the risk in the actions I take and examine the payout that could take place if my risk pays off.

Goal.

Once you set a goal what is your actual endgame? Are you willing to put in the work to see it from inception to fruition? Can you visualize yourself along the journey working through the ups and downs, are you prepared to fall, then rise again to the next wave of challenges ahead? It’s easy to set a goal, the hard part is the steps in between where you have to stick to it and work for your desired outcome.

Tonight we watched “Free Solo” a visual tale of Alex Honold as he prepares to free solo the freerider route on El Capitan. Watching Alex interact with his friends and family as he worked toward his goal was very interesting due to the fact that he remained vocal about his desired outcome and the risk that accompanied his lofty goal. Throughout the film, you watch as he experiences injury, personal preparation both mental and physical, doubt, and finally the completion of his goal. The way the film is shown allows the viewer to experience the actual scale of the challenge and find themselves sweaty-palmed and ready for the next movement on the journey.

As we decide on what challenge we want to accept we need to recognize the challenges there will be. The road will be ready for our feet, but will our feet be ready for the different objects along the way? Personally, the best way I’ve found if I am ready or not is by doing the thing I want to do. If I want to be able to run a 10k I need to start running a few times a week at various distances, recording my time, preparing my mind and body for each step along the way and acknowledging that there will be good days but there will also be bad days. Days where I do not want to run, I can choose on those days if I am going to walk my needed distance, a combination of walking and running, pushing through the pain of the run on that day, or just avoid it altogether.

At the end of the day, week, year, or years how you decide to start and complete your goals are entirely up to you. You can allow these goals to stand at the front of your priority list or have them as passive companions to other worthy pursuits. Either way, you decide how to set out and complete your goal. The key is to set small manageable goals as you start out, then after you get better at achieving your goals set larger loftier goals that stretch you a bit more than your previous accomplishments did. Don’t limit your opportunities because you fear failure, embrace failure to allow for more opportunities to see your goals from dreams to destinations.