A Walk Amongst The Clouds

 

I am not always the best at following through with tasks set before me.  I am not lazy, I am willing to do the work, but I get frustrated when something goes wrong, or if results don’t happen as quickly as I think they should.

Ok… and sometimes I am just lazy.

This year I have resolved to change all that. I am determined to not be “that person” who comes to the end and wonders “Why didn’t I ever do that?”

Back on January 1, I challenged myself to hike all 5 trails up to Mt.LeConte. While I have hiked many trails in and around the Smokies, I had never climbed to the Crown Jewel of my beloved Smokies.  I had somehow told myself, that was for the Elite hikers. Not some wimpy little wanna be like me.

Crazy Talk

It is already March, so I decided I need to get a start on my goal. Good Friday seemed like the perfect day to tackle the first trail up, Alum Cave Trail.

It is 5.5 miles up to the top of Mt. LeConte. It is rocky. It is straight up. It is kinda scary.

Making the call to my hiking buddies, resulted in everyone being busy on that day. The old me would have said, “Ok, we’ll reschedule.” However, apparently I now have this adventure seeking alter ego, that instead said, “I’m still doing this!”

All week I made my preparations for the hike. I seriously had my gear packed up by 6:30 Tuesday evening. I wasn’t leaving until 5:30 Friday morning.  Just a little anxious.

Thursday evening, I tossed and turned all night. I was so excited, and NERVOUS. Here I was, little ole me, heading out on the adventure of a life time.

ALONE

I got up at 3:30 and decided that perhaps reading my Bible could help calm my mood. God always has an encouraging word when we need it. I started flipping through the Psalms and this is what I found.

 

That right there was all I needed to hear, so off I went!

The morning was damp from the rains that poured the night before and the fog that lingered made everything seem so eerie.

 

Once I got to the trailhead, I was so happy that no one else seemed to be around. I just wanted to get started on my adventure and take my trailhead selfie in peace.

 

I took my selfie, and I was off! This was ACTUALLY happening. The humidity was thick and lingered on my skin like white on rice. I pushed it aside and tore up the trail. In a little over 30 min, I had made it to Arch Rock. This is a super cool staircase that goes up through an old rock face.

 

By the time I had made it to the half way point at Alum Cave Bluff, the fog was so thick you could not see yourself much less any mountains.

 

I had made it in just a little over an hour. “You are freaking awesome!” I told myself. “You are going to have this done in no time and then you can go home and chill the rest of the day!”

If you haven’t already noticed, I tend to get a little cocky from time to time.  Let me just go ahead and forewarn you,

I am NOT as awesome as I was telling myself I was.

From this point it is 2.7 miles up to Mt. LeConte. The trail narrows, and sometimes you are walking on a small ledge around the mountain.

It is at this point the fog starts to lift, and my spirit begins to fall. People are starting to pass me. My legs are short. VERY short. And my stride is not long at all. It is when the two men who appeared to be in their late 60’s passed me like I was standing still that I was ready to quit.

Who was I kidding? ” I can’t do this. I must be outta of my mind!” I found a log and sat down to have a good cry, and a Little Debbie Nutty Bar. (Even in the wilderness Little Debbie is a faithful companion!) As I was sitting feeling sorry for myself, a group of three women passed me. We make friendly talk, and then one of the ladies asked,

“You doing this alone?”

“Yep”

“Good for you! That’s some courage! Thank you for being an inspiration!”

Those words were just what I needed to continue my journey. Believe me,  I did not set out to be any inspiration, and thousands of women climb bigger mountains on their own each day, but for that moment, I NEEDED to hear that message.

So up to my feet I went, strapped on my pack, and proceeded upward. By this time, most of the haze and fog were gone, and I actually started catching a glimpse of the beauty I was in.

I would love to tell you that the rest of the way up was easy, and there was never another time I wanted to quit. However, if I wrote that, that would be lying. But I pushed through the pain. I refused to listen to those voices in my head telling me I couldn’t do it.  Then out of the blue the trail leveled out…. flat.

 

And after just a short walk I saw the lodge!!!!!! I had made it!

Tears welled up in my eyes when I realized I had ACTUALLY done it.

Me. Who NEVER finishes. I was standing 6,593 feet above sea level. I had just climbed the 3rd highest point in the Appalachians.

As I took it all in, I walked up to the Cliff Tops to look out over the glorious mountains.

I felt so small in their greatness. I stood on top and I thanked God. I thanked Him for His protection and for all the people He had placed in my path today that encouraged me. I praised Him for the beauty I was beholding. I praised Him because even when I gave up on myself, He gently prodded me along, whispering to me, “You’re not alone. I’ll get you up there.” In that moment, I felt the words John spoke in John 3:30

“He must INCREASE, I must DECREASE”

Any task I accomplish is not of my own ability. I am weak. I am lazy. I am easily frustrated. At times I am cocky and arrogant.  However, using the same strength and power He used to create all that was before me right now, God pushed me up the mountain. As I stood looking out at His creation, I was happy for my smallness and my weakness. There is no other way I could have gotten up there, but by HIS strength.

So, dear friend, don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you off whatever mountain you want to climb. It may not be a physical mountain, but there is something that you crave.

Go for it!

Don’t let fear, doubt, scoffing from others, or busyness keep you from climbing your mountain. If me…the weakest person ever created, can do it, so can you!

Then maybe one day you  can say you remember the day you WALKED IN THE CLOUDS!

 

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16 thoughts on “A Walk Amongst The Clouds

  1. OH my goodness, this is something I so want to do. We have lived in these wonderful mountains for 6 years now and I constantly talk about if I could get up to Leconte lodge just once in my life. But now I am 60 years old and I struggle every day with MS. But I am not going to give up. We know I could not go up and back in a day so the only possible way to give it a try is to have a reservation up there. That is a whole other struggle. haha I too have those short….very short legs. Also when I am going UP the mountain trails it is a struggle for me to breath in the elevation. For me I will first attempt to get to Arch Rock. Then another day I will see if I can go farther. I need to try it in sections first. But I am determined. Thank you for sharing your journey. I had tears in my eyes at the thought of what you were feeling when you got up there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am doing this same hike this Saturday but am a little uneasy about doing it solo even though it is a popular hike and likely to be a lot of hikers! Is there anything to worry about hiking solo?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just making sure that your love ones know the time you are starting, where you are parking, and rough idea of when you will return. I was very fortunate, there were so many people I met along the way who encouraged me and who made sure I made it to the top. 🙂 Hikers are VERY kind helpful people. I was never scared or nervous. I was more anxious to just do it. Just be prepared. Pack your water, snacks, first-aid kit, ibuprofen, jacket, change of socks, and I carry a pocket knife. 🙂 Enjoy it!

      Like

  3. Pingback: The Hardest Climb | Life with Jess

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