How do you climb your mountains? 5 steps at a time.

How do you climb your mountains? 5 steps at a time.

By the time we hit 50, we’ve had our fair share of our own versions of insurmountable challenges.

Maybe we scale them with ease, maybe we find ourselves in such an overwhelming state of mind we don’t even know where to start. There’s been a few times in my life where my poor coping skills, lack of self-awareness, and my skewed perception of events made whatever was going on in my life into an even bigger mess.

I’m an easy woman to find.  I leave messes wherever I go.

I’ve also created my own challenges. “ big, big, goals “ that I just drop when the going gets tougher than I expected.

In 2009, I hiked my first 14er – Mt. Elbert. A 14er is slang for a 14,000 foot mountain. Mt. Elbert is over 14,400 feet high and is the highest mountain in Colorado and the second highest in the lower 48. Elbert hold a classification of one – which means it’s an easy mountain. Very little scrambling, no technical climbing and a well defined trail.

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For a flat lander though I found nothing is easy in altitude, especially at 10,000 feet and above.

From the trail head where we started, Elbert is a nine mile round trip hike and has an elevation gain of over 4,000 feet. I was in fairly good shape then, I’d taken up running, and was a good weight. I expected to have a fairly easy go of it.

When you look at Elbert, you think you see the summit, but that’s not the summit. As you head up over the mountain you see what you think is the real summit, that’s not it either. I was super excited when I saw it and Mark burst my bubble – it was a false summit.

I was brought to tears. I was tired, and cold, and the overwhelming scale of what I had doing was catching up to me. My thighs grew angrier with each stop I took.

A storm was starting to roll in and I was so close.

I said to myself, five more steps. Take five more steps. If you can take five steps, you can take five more steps. That was what got me to the top.

That advice I gave myself to push forward almost nine years ago, which I had totally forgotten about. There were many times I felt so stuck and powered through inappropriately. Horribly, horribly, inappropriately.

Sometimes life has to be taken step by step, minute by minute. When we look at the totality of a situation we can’t imagine ever conquering it. As I came out of treeline on Elbert, Mark said,  don’t look up. Half joking of course, but when I did look up, holy hell, how in the world would I ever get up that mountain.

Five steps at a time.

Put the harrowing and overwhelming events of your life into smaller chunks. Do you need to focus day to day or minute to minute? How far can you look ahead and keep your sanity?

Is there something happening in your life right now or a big goal you want to achieve? How can you break it down so that you can look at one small piece at a time?

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