Monday, 2 March 2015

Ain`t No Mountain High Enough

So my 30th birthday approaches shortly and I am frequently asked if I feel old or am I scared of getting older? Do I feel old? No, not at all. Am I scared of being thirty? Off course not. I am however scared of not achieving more, I feel like I haven`t quite achieved enough yet in my lifetime. You see my birthday follows closely to my anniversary. Generally my partner and I go away to celebrate to different and sometimes random locations. This year was no different as we both visited an area neither of us have been.
Where we stayed there were two nearby national parks. So on our first free day we decided to go on a hike. When we arrived I saw the very aptly named “the pyramid” through the trees. A mountain made of granite with its large tip bare of any trees. Once we gathered a limited understanding of some very crude maps we sighted the trail and began walking. From the beginning I wanted to climb to the top of it. I have had quite a bit of experience climbing indoors/outdoors and bouldering so I felt comfortable with the idea. The trail itself was 1.6km (1mile) long which is nothing to walk at all. But at the same time the trail also ascends to 1200m (3/4 mile). So in a word the trail gets steep and my partner is as good at climbing hills as I am at swimming. (Which would make sense to you if you read my previous posts and knew just how terrible I was at swimming). Now really this was a challenge for her. We had to stop a few times to allow her to get comfortable with the height and steepness of the trail we were walking. I thought that she was going to turn back at one stage early on, but after a few minutes she had become comfortable and we went up further.
Now this trail ascends through forest, brush and bush with giant granite boulders and formations protruding randomly from the earth. Then we came to a clear area which was the base of the climb to the top of “The Pyramid”. At this point my partner chose to stay at the base where she would take photos of the view at 960m (3149ft). She didn’t feel comfortable with the steep terrain combined with the bare granite that she felt wouldn’t grip. I took off up the mountain which quickly began to slow me down as it was getting steeper fast. I was guided by a track marked with spray paint every few metres.
As I ascended I went through a channel of granite and passed two fathers with their two young children. On the way up we passed a teenage couple and they told us there is a section that is a “bit slippery”. Granite has lots of grip when dry but when it is wet it`s dangerously slippery. I went through the channel and took some photos of lizards that lived up there. I came to a section with some running water and then I began to traverse the outside of some granite to try and follow the marked trail. The recommended trail began to slope off to one side where there was a shear drop. The ground was too slippery and my feet stumbled. I managed to steady myself and decided that there must be a better way. So I climbed over the granite boulder and through some trees. I came across a couple with the boyfriend trying to get around the outside like me. “I told him and his girlfriend about the safer route I took. They went that way and I passed them.
As continued on I found myself pausing as it was getting very steep and I couldn’t help but wonder how I was going to get back down. I was scared and my heart was pounding. I told myself I was going to get down and I had no option but to continue. I had come this far I might as well see the top. I took control of my breathing and relaxed. The trail corkscrews up clockwise and I climbed some boulders and got to the top. I couldn`t see my partner so I had to crab walk down the face so I could see her. She took my photo and I began to make my way back. The air was getting cold and the clouds looked dark. I knew I had to get off of this rock. As I made my way down I had to crab crawl again just before the slippery section. It was at this point I had originally seen the two fathers with their kids. They had gone through the same trail I did to avoid the slippery section. One father got down like I did as we passed and crab crawled. I went back down and hung onto the channel to stop me getting to much speed. It began to rain when I reached the base. Two wives/mothers were sitting at the bottom waiting for their husbands. I said “you should call your family back it could get really dangerous”, luckily they had already done it.Really it was to dangerous to have young children on that trail. I caught up to my partner and we started to head back down. By now it was pouring. We tried to hide under an overhanging rock but we were already soaked so we thought we will just continue. We decided to walk a few other tracks, taking photos and enjoying the rain as we went. We were worried about the people on the mountain and wondered if they had gotten off safely. I had no climbing gear to help them if they did get stuck I would be little use. Turns out when we got back to the car after our hour ,3.5 km detour they had just managed to get down from the mountain. They has some scratches but were ok. I felt relived.
Now it turned out whilst I was on the mountain trail my partner had climbed up even higher. It was something I hadn’t realized with all the excitement until we were reflecting on the photos later. Alone and eager to try she inched up using the same method of step by step weaving through the limited rock formations she could find to help her feel comfortable with the steep terrain. It reminded me of a thought I had when I was sitting on the mountain top. Fitness is often like that day, it is a hard slog to get up there and it can be risky or painful but it is worth it. We got soaked that day but both my partner and I could`ve quit and turned back at any time. Neither of us made excuses we just took one step at a time. My partner really did a great job and she seemed really happy with herself. I am very proud of her because I know how big of a challenge it was. That makes me happy when someone persists and achieves and off course you can do that to. Just persist and try and it will be worth it.

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