Up a Mountain, Out of a Rut

A year ago, my idea of a hike was a brisk walk around Green Lake. In fact, I was convinced I hated hiking. Even though I knew that Mt. Si was one of the most popular hiking destinations in the area, my eyes would slide past it as I drove I-90 to go skiing or to Eastern Washington. I wasn’t even sure which mountain it was, and didn’t much care. I knew I had no interest in trying to tromp up it.

What a difference a year makes.

Back in November, when I saw Mt. Si on the training schedule for April, I was doubtful. I mean, these coaches apparently had confidence we could do it, but I wasn’t so sure. It was a big jump from anything I’d attempted so far.

The top of Mt. Si, in the fog.

Of course, as we’ve done harder hikes each week, it began to seem more possible. But it’s hard to describe the feeling I had actually standing at the top of the darn thing yesterday. (And even though, once again, we couldn’t see the view.) In a way, it feels like sort of a graduation, that I can legitimately call myself a hiker.

I was talking to a friend this morning, trying to explain why I’d taken up hiking in the first place. I realized that it was mostly about getting out of a rut – the rut of being unwilling to try something because I thought I didn’t like it….or having a certain image of myself not really doing athletic outdoor things (other than skiing). Funny how a person creates stereotypes about themself. It makes me think more deeply about what other ruts in life I’m in that need changing.

But as for Mt. Si – I did it. (Big smile) And in just over 2.5 hours. The fastest people in our group did it in about 2 hours, which I think is a pretty typical speed for a strong hiker. But hey, I’m happy with getting to the top at a good pace for me and not being in pain the next day. (And since I’m probably the oldest person in our group who’s not an ex-forest ranger, I’m not so concerned that I didn’t make it to the top with the fastest group.)

Of course, I wasn’t thrilled with slipping and sliding on the last steep quarter mile that was covered in snow. And as I hiked uphill, drenched in sweat, nose dripping, hair dripping with rain, I thought that I could perhaps have picked a more glamorous new skill to acquire…but realized this was part of getting out of the rut. I never would have thought before that being such a drippy mess could be fun.

Saturday’s hike: 3,200 ft. of (often steep) elevation gain, 8 miles, carrying my 9 pounds of water

(This was originally posted on April 18 on my hiking blog where you can read more about my 2011 winter hiking adventures.)