This photo best depicts the physical and mental challenge we faced over the past four days hiking the Inca Trail.
Before sunrise while the stars could still greet us we’d rise from our tents, drink a hot cup of coca tea, and tie on our shoes for another mountain to climb.
The right kind of hiking healthily challenges my mental space. It pulls me into my bones and breath. The Inca Trail was 28 miles, 3 mountains, and 80 percent stairs – up and down nearly 14,000 feet, twice.
Mountains shooting straight to the Milky Way surround a 360 view and beyond. They sure have a lot of words for all their magnanimous silence:
No matter where you want to go, you can get there just one small step at a time.
We pushed ourselves beyond our own perception of strength. Our guide reminded us that the strength of our legs didn’t really matter. The strength of our minds would carry us through the journey and would determine our ability to climb and descend mountains.
This recurring message of the mountains is meaningful to me, because it affirms all the climbing for dreams I’ve been doing over the past five years. For much of the journey I’ve felt the pain in my joints, the suffering of endurance and I’ve sought to look up from the trail to see the immeasurable beauty around me.
This summer I felt like I finally reached the top of my mountain. I’ve been celebrating and soaking in the warm sunshine for a few months now. It feels like I’ve taken a long hot shower, washed off the dirt from the uphill climb, and filled my belly with all the best meals.
Now I’m reaching for my shoes again. The descent to the valley is calling, so I can climb the next fourteen-er.
We are all so much stronger than we think.