This past weekend, we went on an overnight backpacking trip to Castle Rock State Park, located in the Santa Cruz mountains. The trail to the backpacker’s camp was about three miles long. Because the distance wasn’t too great, I opted to not bring my hiking poles, figuring whatever the terrain, I’d be just fine without them. Life lesson learned, if you’re going to forgo a piece of equipment that brings you comfort and stability, check your route first.
It was a beautiful trek through the woods, crossing over bridges, past a waterfall, then popping out… on the side of the mountain. The last two miles had us skirting around the edge of the mountain, up and over boulders, and using cabled routes during two slightly hairy crossings. My fear of heights nearly clotheslined me a few times, but positive encouragement kept us moving forward.
That night, as we sat by the fire, the cabled sections were getting significantly harder in my head. We had to be back in the parking lot area at a specific time to meet up with the mentor group, so I woke up early to face two of my biggest fears: heights on loose ground, and a timed physical fitness adventure.
After breaking camp and hitting the road, gulp, twenty minutes late, we took off at a quick pace and soon reached the cabled sections. With a strong cup of Joe coursing through my veins, and my heart pounding, I stepped up to face my first challenge. I grabbed a hold of the cable with sweaty palms, and took a deep breath. I followed the sound of Anne’s voice and focused on one foot in front of the other, until the first set was complete. As we approached set two, my stomach tightened, and I counted my breath, one in, one out, until I reached the other side. We paused for a moment to high-five and take a deep breath, then powered on towards the finish line.
As the sun continued its rise and we entered the forest, we buckled down for the climb out. Our group anxieties were heightening with every passing moment, for fear our pace was too slow for an on-time return. As the parking lot came into view, we did a time check and with team pride, I announced… “we’re four minutes early.”