Sailing My Ship

Don’t you love it when you think you have a handle on this whole life thing, only to have the Rhythmic pace totally halted by a road block????  You are moving along at a pretty great pace, when…..

BOOM!

You have a yet ANOTHER hurdle to climb over.

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It honestly just sucks.

If you have been following me for the past year, you know I have made some dramatic changes in my life, and have developed a strong passion for hiking and being outdoors. Last year, I almost ruptured my Achilles Tendon and was forced to wear an air cast for 2.5 months while I gave my poor gimpy foot rest.

For three months I could not do the one thing I am constantly thinking about….hike.  I was forced to stay off my foot, and to lose any kind of endurance I had built up in the months leading up to my injury.

Finally, right before Christmas, my Doctor took me out of the cast and said those three little magic words I had been waiting 3 months to hear…..

“You can hike.”

Ok…what he really said, was, “You can get back to hiking, gradually. No elevation gain starting out and take it easy on the speed.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah…..all I heard was, “You can hike.”

From that moment since, I have set off hiking each and every weekend, with a few mid week hikes thrown in along the way as well.

I have been pretty good about not overdoing it. The hikes I have done, have all been gradual, and with each and every outing, I was feeling stronger.  Things were starting to get back to normal. My friends were watching me, as I took off, like I had just been shot out of a cannon, and once again, I was leading the pack.

Life was good.

Until this past Monday.

I had the day free, so that meant, an extra bonus day out on a trail.  Why not tackle something BIG???????

YES!!!!!!!

Mt. Cammerer is a favorite destination. It is right off  the Appalachian Trail, and has one of the most stunning views of my beloved Smokies. You climb a total of 3045 feet in the 5.5 mile climb up.  Many folks around here despise the popular Low Gap trail that you climb for the first 3 miles up….but not me.  Low Gap is ironically my FAVORITE trail.  It is gorgeous, wild, and a challenge.

I had made the climb a few times before, my last time being in July of last year. At that time I climbed the 3 miles to the top of the trail in just about an hour and half. NOT an easy task.

I have not had more then 800-1000 feet elevation gain in 4 months. So when I decided to tackle Low Gap this past Monday, this REALLY should have been stuck in my mind.

Ummmm…..yeah…..it wasn’t.

Friends, it is time for me to make a serious confession….. I am WAY too cocky.

Meeting my friend Melani Monday morning, I could immediately tell something was off. My legs felt like they each weighed a 100 lbs. as we walked to the trailhead.  I shook it off, and started my decent up the mountain.

With all honesty, I can say that those three miles up the mountain to the AT junction were the longest three miles of my entire life. A 200 year old tortoise could have made that climb faster then I did.

Those rocks and steep inclines I could fly over just a few short months ago, now looked like Mt Everest and I swear the trail was mocking me.

Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and waterLiterally I felt like my legs were filled with pure lead. It was a struggle just lift them up to step over a rock. I was quickly reminded of my first major hike just a year to the day, and how I struggled that day too….just starting out.  It didn’t take long to realize the cold, hard, sad, and difficult truth……

I was starting over.

My rhythm was gone. My endurance and strength were basically non- existent. My spirit was crushed.

I wanted to sit down and cry.

My hiking partner, Melani, was so encouraging and so kind. She could sense my frustration, and knew I was struggling.  But all I could think of was how pathetic I was. How pitiful I looked inching up the mountain.

The old me would have stopped and called it a day, but I knew that in order to move on, I had to get past this. I needed to keep climbing.

FINALLY, I reached my destination.

Image may contain: sky, tree, plant, house, cloud, outdoor and natureAs I climbed to the fire tower, and stood on her porch looking over the glorious mountains, ravenously inhaling the view below, I could not help but think to myself, “I could have missed this had I not kept climbing.”

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“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.” Those words by Louisa May Alcott, humbled me.  No matter how strong I think I am, or how on course I believe myself to be, storms are going to come.  Obstacles are going to happen. Set backs are going to occur. It matters not, how big and awesome I think I am, what matters is the effort and strength I put into sailing my ship through the storm.

In Isaiah 66:9 God tells us, “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.”  I can read that all day and say, “Amen!” However, when I am living it, it is frustrating and sometimes scary stuff. But in the end, every pain, every struggle, every labored breath is all worth it.

I broke down physically and mentally on Monday.  I had put all my faith in my strength from a few months ago.  That was the past, and now I am experiencing something new.  I don’t enjoy the obstacle of a storm, but I am no longer afraid, because I know that as long as I keep my eyes on the destination, I can sail my ship right through. At the end of the day I was beat, but I was STILL standing.

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Storms are going to come.  Don’t be scared.  Keep your eyes focused on where you are going and hold steady.  It may take a while, but you’ll get there.  I promise.

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