Saturday, June 25, 2011

mountains and molehills

So, I took 18 grade seven students up the Stawamus chief. Well, not really, they raced ahead, and I took myself up. After the first 30 minutes, or less, it was just me. Stubborn me. I should have given up, I should have turned back. If it wasn't for misreading the map that made me think I was 1/2 way there after one hour I would have. But, I didn't. And various strangers along the way encouraged me. "You're almost there!" And I was if you counted two ladders, two heavy chains and two blocks of solid, up-hill rock.

And, besides, how many people have gotten to within the last block of the top to have 18 students cheering, and encouraging them. I couldn't turn back then. But, I probably should have.

And, it was lovely at the top. Although a scary photo someone took showed the white around my mouth. Lactic acid build-up someone said. I did belly out to fly over the edge. That was something.

And then I had to start down.

Accompanied by a student and her Dad. They chatted, they teased, they went really slow, because I could not go any faster. Every step was agony. My right thigh muscle gave out. Sometimes I would teeter on a step and although I willed myself to step down, my body simply said - no. How embarrassing. How was I going to get down?

One stair at a time. One orange reflective sticker at a time. They are placed about every fifteen feet. I would will myself to one. And stop. And look for the next one.

Every staircase I took on my bum. I used my arms on every tree I could find to hold my weight off my thighs. My legs were wobbly. I wanted to cry. But, there was this little girl with me, and I didn't want to scare her. But, I was scared.

Maybe it was too much for this 55 year old body. Maybe, it would be my undoing. People have had heart attacks on the Grouse grind. Maybe, too, on the chief. What was I thinking? Luckily I have a strong heart. Or, maybe it is a stubborn one.

I don't know how long it took to get up. I don't know how long it took to get down. I know in total it was 7 hours. What was I thinking?

When I made it down I couldn't believe it. I was so sore, so tired, so unbelievably, bone weary exhausted.

I drove back to camp.

Everyone was finishing dinner, listening to the hockey game (we lost), being thirteen. Well, except for the grown-ups, they were acting somewhat older.

I sat gingerly, wondering how I would ever get up. Someone brought me dinner, that I was too tired too eat. A parent gave me a foot bath and a leg massage with arnica. I think I fell in love with her for that 30 minutes.

But, I did get up. I did sleep the next three nights in a tent. I did go river rafting two days later. I did it, all. And, man was I sore.

It is amazing what this body can do. This body that I often wish was thinner, or tauter, or, less achy.

But, look what it did for me. And I made 18 thirteen year olds proud of me. I was proud of me.

Sometimes mountains really are mountains. Sometimes they aren't. We have to climb them all the same. And, we have to get down off them as well.

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