Some random metaphors... How mountain climbing* is like a marathon:
It's actually more mental than physical. (So I've been told on the marathon part.)
How mountain climbing is like labor:
It's intensely physical, and you can get through the challenging parts by resting afterward and saying, "Well, I never have to do that one again." (Even if you hike down the same way, it's not really the same experience, is it?)
Also, the hardest part is at the end.
How mountain climbing is like a vision quest:
The demons visit you on the mountain. The discouraging voices that tell you that you'll never make it, that other people's bodies are capable of such things, but yours isn't.
How mountain climbing is like writing:
I like doing it, but I really like Having Done It. It's all about the verb tenses.
How mountain climbing is like life:
Knowing people you love are rooting for you and waiting for you at the top makes it easier. I'm not too proud to admit that towards the end I was chanting my children's names with each step... and I couldn't think about Robert too much or it would make me want to cry for wishing he was there to keep me going (though my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were great company).
The kindness of strangers saying, "You're almost there. One step at a time." is a gift of grace.
Walking the last bit hand in hand with a loved one makes it all worthwhile.
If your equipment fails, you make do.
How mountain climbing is like my least favorite hymn:
I've never liked "Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley." I think it's bad theology to say, "You must walk the lonesome valley. You've got to walk it by yourself. Nobody else will walk it for you." I'm a big believer in community, and the Spirit is with us so we're never alone.
That said, with half a mile left, straight up, and two swigs of water left due to the pump at the AMC halfway hut not working, two failed boots, and terrible fatigue, and no choice but to continue, I TOTALLY get that hymn now.
How mountain climbing is like Outward Bound:
"If you can't get out of it, get into it."
*I'm calling it a climb rather than a hike because 2/3 of our time was spent scrambling up boulders and picking our way through rocks.
Title of the post is from Billy Jonas's song "Old St. Helen." Another Billy Jonas song was in my head for most of today: "Anyway you go you're gonna get there... lean a little bit to where you're gonna get." That was what today was all about.