Every year my family hikes Mt. Leconte in the Smokies in East Tennessee. It's our yearly family trip. I've not hiked the mountain in years. I went last about 4/5 years ago with my then boyfriend/now husband. And in the years since I've not made it up, choosing instead to not conquer the mountain and instead hang out at the bottom. As my weight grew the excuses came naturally.
But this year was different, it was my dad's 60th birthday and I was determined that I wasn't going to be left at the bottom enviously liking pictures and hearing reports back. So my husband and I started off early, like 4am early. We thought we would beat the heat, and in response we also met the rain. We took one of the harder trails (to me) up. Rainbow Falls. It was 6.6 miles UP and rocky and wet and Hard.
Most of the trail was a gradual and slow climb until the last .6 and then it was rocky and steep and I was tired after hiking for over 8 hours. That last .6 almost beat me. I wanted to take my toys and go home. Then my husband came, he had gone ahead of me for a little bit and dropped his pack. He encouraged me in his own way and I was ecstatic to see THIS sign. Leconte Lodge .1 miles away. Yep. We made it. And yep, that's probably the worst picture of me EVER.
We made it to the top, we were the first to make it to the top and I was tired but also proud. This was epic. This was my half marathon, my 5k, my zumbathon. This was something I thought I would never be able to do again. And once at the top the real celebration started. There was amazing hot chocolate, puzzles with my niece, porch rocking, dinner shared with friends. And a very important birthday celebration for my hero.
And even the next day when I climbed back down that mountain and I said goodbye to Mt. Leconte for another year, when I resocked my blistered feet, and I climbed over some more rocks in hopes to survive the "walk" down. I felt accomplished. I felt fit. I recognized that I still have a LONG way to my goals, but I am so very much closer than I was last year and 140 pounds ago. That it's okay for me to celebrate where I am in this moment, while reaching for more and setting my goals further.
And the view down was pretty sweet.