I can barely walk this morning. It’s because on Thursday, two dear friends of ours took Rachel and I on a climb of Mount St. Helens.

I had been so busy leading up to the climb that I didn’t really have time to research what we had gotten ourselves into. We did some training hikes and stair training sessions at Percy Warner, one of our local parks, but that was it. We knew that we couldn’t train for the altitude in Nashville, so no need to stress that. And in the days leading up to the climb, all I could think about was how great it would be to get out of town and be off my phone for a couple of days.

News Flash… climbing a mountain is kinda hard. But I can’t think of a better way to remember that the hard things are the ones worth doing.

Photo Credit – Adair Rutledge

That’s Rachel and I approaching the summit in the photo above. Beneath our feet is volcanic ash. It was one of four different terrain types that we made our way through both up AND down the mountain: Forest, Rock Wall, Rock / Ash mix, Ash. The mountain had incredible personality.

There were too many lessons and epiphanies to share, but the two that stood out are the most obvious and the most clichéd.

First, it’s so much fun to go on an adventure with good friends.

On the way down, my knee swelled up and basically felt like it was going to jump out of my leg the whole time. It was miserable. But being with friends made even that painful stretch of hours fun. Friends are good for our soul, and incredibly helpful on the hard parts of the climb. Remember that and nurture those relationships.

Second, some time in the journey, the only thing to do is put your head down and keep moving. The last 1000 ft. was steep and all ash. It felt like quicksand at times. When I looked up, I was immediately depressed at how far we had to go. It was a natural reaction and no number of affirmations was going to overcome that feeling. The only thing that worked was putting my head down, and putting one foot in front of the other. After 30 minutes of doing that, when I’d look up, the distance was cut in half.

Sometimes our goal feels so far away. This climb reminded me that the goal often feels farther away towards the end than it does when you set out to do it. It’s when your legs are ready to give up, and you only have 1000 ft. left that you tend to get discouraged. And that’s exactly when you need to put your head down and keep climbing. You’re going to make it.

Photo Credit – Adair Rutledge

Ok, that’s it for this week. We’re about to leave Seattle and I don’t want to miss anymore time with our dear friends.

To the last 1000 feet… on the Grind.

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