Originally Entitled Motivation – Or Lack Thereof

The Little Big Econ Trail
The Little Big Econ Trail

Yes, the original title of this post was “Motivation or Lack Thereof.” Only a few days ago, when I started this I was overcome by the the fact that as of that moment I had no clear goal in mind. Since 2010, I have trained for Kilimanjaro, Inca Trail, Mt. Hood, Grand Canyon, Mt. Elbrus, the Muliwai Trail in Hawaii (which turned into Mauna Kea). There has always been some journey out there that caused me to climb that extra flight of steps. And I was finding it increasingly hard to climb that extra set, even without carrying any extra weight in my backpack.

But thanks to the Labor Day weekend, and the time to spend messing about with airline reservations, we at least now have a trip to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire planned for mid-October. I am under no illusion that it will be anything like Mt. Washington in winter, when we had really wanted to climb it, but at least it is something uphill! And, in contrast to the Barrels on Mt. Elbrus, we will spend two nights with daughter number 1 and boyfriend at an inn originally built by the Baldwin family – as in Baldwin pianos. Somehow that seems significant. Due, I suppose, to 10 years of piano lessons.

So, in celebration of at least committing to one summit in the foreseeable future, yesterday we donned our faithful hiking boots and ventured out to the Little Big Econ trail. (Econlockhatchee, for you non- Florida readers.) We hiked out the orange trail to what we have always heard referred to as the Boy Scout bridge. It’s the one trail in Central Florida where you are on what could (kindly) be described as a bluff overlooking the river. The river is remarkably still and very red, due, I believe, to the types of leaves absorbed into the water. Didn’t see any alligators sunning themselves on the very white beaches but did enjoy the many wildflowers that somehow were surviving the heat. A yellow gold flower shaped almost like a stalk of wheat, pinks formed like orchids, and all about palms, short, skinny, bushy, spiky, all different shapes and sizes. After the bridge we hiked away from the river on the white trail. Not many people take this path, presumably in part because of the 16 inch grasses that whip your legs as you walk by. But it’s beautifully shady, with Florida pines casting shadows over the undergrowth. Every now and then we went through a semi-cool spot – almost as in the ocean, when you encounter a sudden cool current. We were kept good company by a cadre of spiders who had created their own spider suburbia out there among the pine trees – their webs the equivalent of spider McMansions.

It was good to get out there and rev up the hiking engine again. With Mt. Washington anchored now in time and place, the next stop needs to be the rock climbing wall. I need to figure out if I have the courage to step off a sheer precipice and to trust the rope – both of which appear to be requirements for the Grand Teton climb we hope to do this summer. Motivation back – now if it will just stop raining I will see if I can make myself run a few miles.

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Summits of All Sorts

The Swamp - not sure how thus translates to climbing granite cliffs -
The Swamp – not sure how this translates to climbing granite cliffs –

I’ve been in the saddle the last couple of weeks – that is, the place between summits. Actually, that’s not true at all. Instead I’ve been climbing one of those sudden summits you encounter in your professional world – and, happily – have scaled it.

Which brings me to the point – there may be summits in all parts of our lives – but none quite the same as the true top of a mountain. Once you’ve reached the top of a mountain you have it forever. No one ever, ever, ever can take it away.

But even on mountains there are lots of different summits. When we hiked Kilimanjaro surviving seven straight nights of sleeping in a tent was its own summit. It is remarkable how you can put something down – your headlamp, for example – only for it to disappear 30 seconds later. And that’s not to mention getting up every day knowing you would hike, and hike and then hike some more. Elbrus was different. It was 14 hours of sheer determination and physical exertion. For me it was saying no to those snowmobiles at the very end who were just dying for us to pay them a bunch of money to save the final two hours of hiking. It was the counting in fours the last hour just so I knew I could continue to put one foot in front of the other.

But now we are thinking of a really different sort of summit – climbing the Grand Teton, the highest mountain in the Teton range. It’s only 13,775 feet but it involves rock climbing, not just bouldering, and is a class 5.4 – something we have never done before. And what most don’t know is that I historically have a pretty good case of fear of sheer vertical drops. In 1985 I froze walking down the Eiffel Tower and it was good long time before I made it to the bottom. So, if we really do decide to do this four day, three night trip it will be a summit of a type I haven’t reached before.

The more You Tube videos I watch the more intriguing it seems. There’s a practice rock climbing wall near us. Maybe it’s the next stop?