Last weekend, I had the privilege of hosting one of my besties from college, Jane, at our little apartment in Colorado. It was our last weekend of living in Colorado before moving back to Wyoming for the school year, and Jane flew all the way to Denver just to see me. Yep, I have good friends.
Before Jane came, I planned out a tentative overview of our weekend. I had restaurants scoped out (obviously), and a few things to do, one of which was a hike. I’d always wanted to hike a little around the Boulder area since it’s beautiful, and I had a nice, easy trail picked out for us. It was more of a nature walk than a hike, if we’re being honest.
The night before we planned on hiking, we started looking at trails and Jane suggested that instead of my nature walk, we try a hike in the Flatirons. AllTrails rated the trail as “challenging” (AllTrails’ highest rating) and the reviews were like “hardest trail I’ve ever hiked” and “I almost died three times.” You know, nothing too intense.
I was apprehensive but not one to be lame, I agreed that we should try it. It was only a 2-mile loop so it couldn’t be that bad…right? Right. We got to the trailhead and as if to say “Yeah, this is gonna be hard,” the trail started with a steep uphill that left me out of breath. It didn’t really get easier from there.
Because of a wrong turn, we ended up off of our chosen trail, and Jane suggested that we try hiking the trail clear to the TOP of the Flatirons instead. The TOP. OF A MOUNTAIN. The reviews for this trail were even more intense than those for our intended hike. This had “let’s turn back and get smoothies” written all over it, but again, not one to be lame, I said, “Let’s go for it.”
I’m not gonna lie, there were times where I wanted to turn back or just stop. My lungs were burning and my legs hurt. I literally had to get on my hands and knees and climb over rocks at some points. Finally, after 2 miles ONE WAY (that’s four miles round-trip, folks), we made it to the summit.
When I got up there, I felt so darn proud of myself for making it all the way. As I stood at the clearing, taking in the view, I realized something important: this was not only one of the hardest physical challenges I’d undertaken, it was the most vulnerable I’d been since I could remember. And then I felt even prouder.
There is no way in heck the old Taylor would have agreed to put her physical abilities (or lack thereof) out there on display. In the past, whenever friends would suggest doing something even sort of physical (like more physical than walking), I’d go into total avoidance, making every excuse in the book for why it wasn’t a good idea. I don’t think anyone noticed, but I knew. I was afraid that if we did something physical, it would become obvious how out of shape I was. I felt like I could hide my weight with clothes, but there was no hiding my lack of stamina or strength.
When I stood up on that mountain, looking out at the city, I realized what a big deal that hike was. It wasn’t just a reeeeeally long climb; it was a sign that not only had my body changed, but my mind had, too. It was proof that I could take on a hard physical challenge and hold my own, even with someone who was in a lot better shape than I was. I’d faced my deep-seated fear of embarrassing myself, and conquered it.
Call me crazy, but I think I might hike somewhere like that again. I might even hike again with other people. If I make it to the end of the hike, wherever that might be, I’ll feel pretty awesome. If I decide I’m about to die halfway through and have to turn around, I won’t be embarrassed. As I’ve lost weight, I haven’t been surprised by now-baggy jeans that used to fit and a better selfie game because less chins. The thing I didn’t expect was to get a new lease on life. Or a newfound like of hiking.