The Longest Hike

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I know you guys missed by posts about exercise that are actually metaphors for writing….right?!

Anyway.

I recently went on a hike to Mt. Woodson in San Diego aka “Potato Chip Rock” so named for a sliver of rock that juts out and over the side of the mountain when you reach the summit. it’s a popular spot for pictures because, when taken from the ground, it looks like you’re standing on this tiny finger of rock, suspended in space.

This was a HARD hike. I had heard that it was hard, but hearing and experiencing are two different things. I work out pretty often, horseback riding, strength training, a little yoga, a little running, recently started biking. But anyone who can do that hike and make it look easy, is a warrior. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life. My heart was plotting its imminent escape from my chest.

The first mile to the start of the trailhead (yes, the start!) is okay, rolling hills, gravel path, views of a nice lake. Then you get to the trailhead and immediately start a mile of steep hills, also gravel. This section is pretty unrelenting….there are only one or two places where it even slightly levels out. This was the section where my heart was beating so fast, I couldn’t feel any separation in the beats, just a crazy thundering around in there. If I’d been wearing a heart rate monitor, I’m sure it would have been telling me to rest and lower my heart rate.

Second mile started out with a more flat patch, before changing to rocky and steep switchbacks. Somewhere in the midst of this my hiking partner had to rest for a bit because he wasn’t feeling well and sent me on ahead, as he wasn’t sure if he was going to go back down or not.

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Were you wondering when I was going to get around to my “this is like writing because”? Because here it is.

I was really determined to get to the summit. I wanted my picture on that rock, but I also knew that even if the wait was too long to get it, I had to get to the top. Striking out on my own, still climbing through the rocky switchbacks, I began to notice that if I took tiny, itty-bitty steps, I didn’t need to stop as much and my heart stayed a bit calmer.

I have a goals sheet up in my home office (was in my room) and one of those goals was to get a book published with a publishing house by 25. As I’m going to be 24 1/2 this month, that clearly isn’t happening. I had half-hoped to have had a book published, become an overnight success, and be living in a big beautiful house in Encinitas or Rancho Santa Fe with a big yard and a closet full of Anthropologie, Madewell, and Nordstrom.

Not so much.

So while I didn’t make this particular goal, I haven’t really failed, either. I was going through my project list the other day and I realized that I have enough book projects to keep me busy through 2018. I have the next four years of my life planned out in creative endeavors! There was once a time in my life where I wondered if all my ideas would just dry up and I’d have nothing left to write. Even if that happens when I get to 2018, if nothing has been published, I can always go back and keep fixing and sending out my earlier work, for as long as it takes.

Much like this hike, my goals are taking me longer than I thought they would. But I’ll get there. After all, while I may not be moving in glorious, long, loping strides, tiny, shuffling baby steps are still steps. They help you move forward and get closer to your destination.

When my boyfriend caught up with me again, he was surprised that I’d made it so far ahead of him, as I’d set a rather dismal pace on the earlier sections of the climb. I told him about the tiny steps as we hiked through the third mile, which was markedly easier that the other two. Thank. God.

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As we got to the top, we could see that the line to take a picture out on Potato Chip Rock was too long and we’d have to wait at least forty minutes for our turn.

So while I got to the top, I didn’t get my picture on the rock. Instead, I got someone else’s picture on the rock.

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Which I guess is also what happens sometimes in life. You get to the top and it’s still not your party.

But then, there’s always another day.

 

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