Signs of a Delusional Mind

These are the chronicles of the esoteric . . .


the mountaineer

My friends and I hiking the path
up Mount Temple.

I live my life in the mountains.

This past Friday, my friends and I packed into two vehicles and drove 16 hours to the Albertan mountain ranges with the intent of summiting Mount Temple. We arrived with time enough to set up camp, prepare our bags, and attempt to sleep despite our excited minds and nervous bodies.

Saturday morning came, early for all. We moved in the 4AM dark, grabbing our stuff and heading to the trail - we started the hike well before the sun had even given thought to rise. With only our headlamps and the dim light of the moon, we pressed on in the dusk, keeping our eyes on our steps, treading the stones and roots as we rose higher and higher.

Marching in the dark, I closely watched the feet in front of me. Looking right or left only showed me shadows, but I knew if I strayed too far from the trail I'd find a drop. I had an understanding of where we were headed, and I knew the path would be a challenging one, but with every turn and zig-zag in the dark - with every push to put the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right - it became apparent to me that this foreign terrain was in fact familiar.

In my life I tread a narrow path, unsure of what lays before me beyond the zig-zags of switch-backs. I know where I want to go, but the path is a dark one - a path whose footing is not revealed until I take my step upon it. And the path can be a dangerous one. With a wrong step, a misplacing of the foot, and I would go tumbling. Surefootedness is key; knowing where to place each step is crucial. But sometimes the footing looks sure, yet gives way once weight is pressed onto it. And sometimes the trail turns to scramblingskram-buh-ling (aka alpine scrambling).
A method of ascending rock faces and ridges, especially with the use of hands (usually for balance).
- or screeskree (aka talus).
An accumulation of broken rock fragments, typically shaped in a concave upwards form. The word scree comes from the Old Norse word for 'landslide' and commonly refers to a mixture of gravel and loose dirt.
- and each step is a struggle to keep me going forward. I start to doubt every turn I make, every step I take - I start to second-guess every move. But if I give up or grow careless, it means injury or death. If I hesitate at too many places and waver with uncertainty, I fall behind and don't accomplish anything save exhaustion. So with laboured breath, I must maintain focus and press onward.

With determination and trust in those around me, I can keep moving upwards. Yet sometimes, when I think I'm making good progress, I look up in the dim light and find I'm barely half-way, I find there's miles to go. And the way ahead looks worse than the way behind - steeper, clumsier, more unstable. Higher, further, almost impossible. And I begin to wonder if there's any point.

What's the use in such effort to get to a summit I may not even be able to climb? Why should I bother keeping on the path? Why not turn back to where I feel safe on the flat of ground, far below amongst the rest of the world?

Why not given up going up mountains and do something easy, something safe, something unchallenging?

Why? Because when I get to a point where I can survey how far I've come, the view is beautiful. Because when I get a chance to rest and catch my breath, I can feel how much I've grown and been strengthened. Because even though for weeks the summit is covered in clouds, those few hours where you can see right to the top you know it'll be worth it once you're there.

Because even though the way is difficult, narrow, challenging, and seemingly never ends (or ends at nowhere), the journey is important, pushing boundaries is important, being tested is important. Because even though I get tired or don't feel like it's worth the effort or have doubts about the summit - or dream of flatter land - I know my place is on the path, marching upwards.

Even when the way is dark and I can't breathe, I know I won't be left lost and wandering on the mountains. I may live my life up here, but one day I'll reach the summit.

One day.

[posted by ericjordan at 2259 hrs]
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