I Have Had Enough! So, I Head Outside!
I’ve had enough. I have had enough of my pompous, demanding boss, my screaming infant and my needy husband. Everyone reaches a breaking point and I’m there. I am so there.
So, I head outside. The outdoors is my safe place, my haven, my healer. If it sounds corny, that’s because it is. In all honesty, it sounds ridiculous to say, but my marriage, my career and my sanity have all been saved by the mountains.
I live at the base of Pikes Peak and as adrenaline-seeking thrills go, climbing up the trail to its 14,000ft summit is both breath-taking and nerve-wracking. There are multiple options on how to get to the top, but the most popular and perhaps most rewarding is to climb the many steps of the infamous “Incline” and then join up with Barr Trail to reach the peak.
Pikes Peak’s claim to fame is its recognition as the “purple mountain’s majesty above the fruited plains” of Kansas. It is a geological masterpiece jutting out of the landscape as you first glimpse the Rockies. Staring at this mountain does not get old. Its peak, whitened by snow until late June every year, settles me just by existing. It has become a sort of balm for my nerves, a salve for my anxiety, and a cure for my anger.
Lately, I’ve been working too hard and too long at my mostly mundane job. Even at home I have been so focused on responding to work emails and stressing about balancing our checkbook that I’ve failed to enjoy my family or engage with my daughter. Insecurities about the 20+ lbs of weight I’m still hanging onto after the birth of said child, have also been weighing heavily on my mind. (Get it? Heavily? I digress.) Things have been tense, and so, before the scale tips into a dangerous downward spiral. I quit.
I quit life for just a short while and instead, lace up my hiking boots. I read somewhere once that spending time at a higher altitude can help speed up your metabolism. I have no idea if this is accurate or backed by science but I am always game for anything that claims to help me lose weight without even trying. (I also read somewhere that a hot bath helps burn calories and red wine is good for your health, which explains my drinking in the tub addiction).
The Incline has its base in the little town of Manitou Springs. It’s a quaint, little hippie-town with great dive bars and excellent people watching. When you’re standing at the bottom looking up, it seems impossible. That’s what I like about it--the seeming improbability of success. It’s daunting. The Incline gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than a mile, and makes your buns feel like they’ve touched the blazing fires of hell. The trail itself is what remains of an old railway line which had, at some point, washed out during a rock slide, causing the railroad ties to press together and forming a resemblance of stairs. Lots and lots of stairs. (Recently the incline has undergone some preservation/restoration making the stairway more stable and less of a injury hazard!)
This hike isn’t for the faint of heart. Which is predominately why I only traverse it when I am feeling particularly heart sick. It takes stamina, and a lot of curse words to get yourself to the top. So, step by impossible step, I will drag myself up The Incline. I will stare at the mountain before me. I will breathe deeply and I will think of little else other than placing one foot in front of the other, because climbing this mountain is good for the soul. At the end of this trail, one can continue on to the summit of Pike’s Peak, or simply sit for a while staring eastward over the city of Colorado Springs. I usually choose choice two. Just getting this far makes my heart race and my blood pump. I will meander my way down the winding Barr Trail, back to the bottom. Less than a mile up, but more than 4 miles down back to my car and back to my life.
Just a little mountain antidote for the day-to-day trials of life and I’m good to go. A tiny adventure that I can claim for myself, and I am back to being mom and spouse and friend. Sometimes I just need the mountains.