Did I seriously forget to bring food again?
Ah well, what can you do. That feeling of dread was quickly replaced with my legs pounding with exhaustion. I consoled them with a generous amount of stretching, and eventually they calmed down. I sat back down and stared at the basin below me for a little while longer, and looked back over my shoulder at the perpetual uphill awaiting me.
It would have been easy to turn around and head back. I was tired, I didn’t have food.. I laid down in the damp dirt and stared at the sky for a bit. I thought over my options. I could turn back now and go stuff my face with food, or I could push up a little further and see how I felt. Undecided yet, I stood up and got my backpack back on. As I stood there, a hiker passed by.
“Where you headed?” She asked.
“Kings Peak” I said reflexively. That was the original plan, but I wasn’t sure by now.
We made small talk for a moment and she pressed on. I was reminded of why I was out here. It wasn’t like I was out to conquer mountains. Despite my interest in mountaineering at some point in the future, standing on top of things and feeling triumphant isn’t exactly my thing. I was just here to hike, and there was a trail in front of me that wasn’t going to walk itself. I looked back down at the basin, and at the walls encasing this beautiful flat field, and at Kings Peak above me.
I’d spent too long focusing on all the negatives, I forgot where I was. The views and the cool breeze recharged me, and I continued my ascent up this damn pass.
The hill out of my beloved field of rock and grass wasn’t too bad, and before I knew it I could see the end of the pass in the distance, nestled between Kings Peak and its sibling to the East. I can do this. I had a bit of a flat walk before I made my final ascent up the pass, and took the moment to recharge a bit. I was feeling a bit better once I hit my last push up the pass.
But as I ascended, I felt worse almost immediately. I kept my head down and focused on breathing. I’d stop every five minutes or so to rest a little bit, then push on. Occasionally I’d look over and scowl at the mountain.
And scowl at its sibling.
By the time I neared the top, I was just shuffling. I was spent. I’d been hiking for who knows how long at this point. My heart sank when I saw someone start their ascent.
Even standing next to it, my sense of scale for the mountain was still a little off. Nothing like a little dot of a person to put things into perspective. But I pushed the dread aside and kept climbing up. At some point, I could see the hill taper off and end on the horizon. The top, oh my god the top! I pushed on up and was greeted with the most amazing thing.
I sat there in disbelief for a while. There’s no way this is real, right? It’s just wrong that views like this exist, how am I ever going to appreciate anything after seeing this? I realized that I had at some point in the day started at the elevation of the basin below me, and that I’d made it this far. I could handle one more climb. I sat at the top for a while to rest my legs, occasionally being shoved around by the wind. I can do this.
I started to climb.