Whoever originally came up with the saying ” One step at a time.” was as wise as Socrates in my opinion. This saying has helped me immensely over the years.
This weekend I went hiking west of Ft. Collins. There is a trail in the foothills called Towers road in a beautiful area called Horsetooth Open Space. Trail runners, hikers, and mountain bikers use this road for practicing their endurance. It is only a little over 3 miles long but in that 3 miles it has a 1,7000 ft elevation gain. Even among the most fit of people, it is rare to see a smile on those headed to the top. No, these people have expressions of pure grit and determination. The smiles are reserved for those heading down the mountain.
I knew going into the hike I wanted to get about a 1,000 ft. elevation gain and about 5 miles of hiking. I planned a route that took me two miles up Towers road and then would take a connecting trail which would have scenic views back to the parking lot. The total distance would be 5.3 miles with a 998 ft elevation gain.What I did not realize was how long it had been since I challenged myself to a steep incline.
I felt strong for the first mile and kept a strong, steady pace. As I began my second mile I started to question my ability. My lungs were definitely working, my quads were complaining, and my knee was a little grumpy. I knew I could make it but a desire to opt for an easier hike was building up in my mind.
It was then I looked up and noticed that the surrounding mountains seemed to have distinct rock formations that I could use to mark distance. I smiled as I made my plan. “I will hike to the first group of rocks and then decide what I will do.” I told myself. Actually, I already knew what I would do. Once I got to the first group of rocks, I would pick another group of rocks further up the trail and hike towards them. This process was how I was going to trick my mind into hiking the full distance and not back out.
When I reached the 2 mile mark and the connecting trail down I was feeling proud of myself. I knew the remaining 3.4 miles back to the parking lot was going to be a beautiful hike and a piece of cake compared to the uphill climb. I also knew that by focusing on one short distance at a time I could make it all the way up Towers on my next hike. It would add and extra 700 ft elevation gain and another 1.4 miles in distance. I was so glad I kept going and did not turn back early. It would have been so easy to do and so easy to justify in my mind. The good news for me is that up to this point in my life I have always had just one more step in me.
This week as I navigate through the list of things I need to get done as well as working towards personal goals I want to achieve, I will take a moment to remember the mountain air, picture a formation of rocks ahead on the trail, and take that first step.
As always, I would love to hear from you.
Until next time,