Thursday, August 2, 2012
A Different Kind of Challenge
Thomas Divide Trail - GSMNP
July 30, 2012
Last Monday, on my birthday, my friend and I hiked a long 11.4 miles across the Thomas Divide trail to its intersection with Newton Bald Trail, past backcountry campsite #52 to the intersection with Mingus Creek Trail. It was the second time I'd done this hike and when we reached the right turn seen in the picture above, I KNEW what lay around the bend. Although it was only the second time I'd been this far, I'd hiked earlier portions of Thomas Divide trail several times and knew it to be a fairly gentle journey of ups and downs. But the memory of this extreme turn to the right was crystal clear and I'd been watching for it. I knew when we walked around this bend in the trail, we were headed STEEPLY downward for almost one full mile. This also meant we would be headed STEEPLY upward on the return trip for almost one full mile. By the time we reached this point coming back, fatigue would surely be coming into play, a factor that can be blamed for many hiker accidents.
Those who hike know, that in some ways, downhill stretches can be as challenging as uphill and those who don't hike, need to understand that to be true. I had enjoyed every moment of the hike thus far, but in the back of my mind, I was watching and waiting for the CURVE I knew was coming.
Gentle stretch of sun-drenched trail not long before "THE CURVE"
This trail, not known for "views" afforded this one cool glimpse framed between the trees!
We rounded that curve and the downhill stretched out in front of us just as I remembered. And I have no hero story to tell about it being easier this time than last. It was tough on the knees going down and seemed to never end. It was tough on the lungs and every other part of my body coming back up because I was tired, hot, knew it was coming and more than ready to have it behind me.
You may have already realized where this analogy is going. And you'd be exactly right. I feel as if I'm standing at the point of the trail in the first picture FROZEN and TERRIFIED to take another step, much less walk around that curve because I know what's around the bend. And that word is MAINTENANCE!
I've been down this "trail" before. I've reached the "bend" in the trail before. I've even made it successfully through the initial downhill stretch before. I've spent time resting and relaxing with the euphoria of being at goal weight before.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backcountry Campsite #52.
Where we ate lunch and "rested" before the long trek back to the car.
I rounded that "bend" in the journey toward goal weight, officially entered the "maintenance" phase and boy, did the trail ever head downhill quickly. But I saw it coming and just as I knew that the trail challenge was coming last Monday, I knew the first week of maintenance was going to drop steeply downward for a long, long mile.
In my life (and probably in most of yours), feeding someone or "treating" someone with food, represents love and celebration. I've known all along that reaching my goal near my birthday would come with some hefty challenges to overcome immediately. This week alone, between family and friends, I am being "treated" to six birthday lunches/dinners. I already know of two that will happen NEXT week! Yep, it's going to be a long trek down that steep, slippery, slope! In about half of the instances, I've been given a choice - the other half started with "I want to take you to __________ for your birthday."
Only after next Friday evening (that's the 10th) will I be able to "rest" and hopefully resume what I hope will become my new normal. That's when I have to climb back UP that hill while I adjust and then maybe, someday fairly soon, I'll be able to look up and see that BEND in the trail back to the LEFT signifying the top of that climb where I can relax a teeny, tiny bit and enjoy the gentle ups and downs of familiar territory!
A beautiful fungus growing on a fallen tree trunk and our "surprise"
of the day, Fire Pink, which should've been long gone by the end of July!
I am so very, very grateful for every last one of you. I probably don't reiterate that often enough. But right now, I am holding on with sheer dependence on those of you who are currently maintaining and are available to "walk" with me for the next few months. I need you! I promise to do the same for those of you coming behind me!
FYI - Here's a sampling of my upcoming "birthday" dining schedule! Some of these places are local, but if you've ever eaten anything at any of them that you really enjoyed and felt good about eating, I'd love some suggestions. Or just for fun, check out the menu's and let me know what you'd order if YOU were being treated to these places.
Tonight - Abuelo's
Friday night - Calhoun's On the River
Saturday night - Bonefish Grill
This has probably been one of the most delightful birthdays I've ever had. Don't perceive any of what I've written today as complaining. Between your birthday wishes, messages from friends and family representing every aspect of my life from elementary school to the present, a wonderful day of hiking ON my birthday, a great day in the mountains with Bill yesterday and all these upcoming celebrations, all I can say is how can one girl be so lucky and so blessed?
Birthday Girl - July 30, 2012