Do you know what I love about the mountains? Being able to actually get away. There is no cell phone service, no Wi-Fi, no homework. Sometimes you know the trail, and other times you have no idea what to expect. Sometimes there are other people along the way, and sometimes you are in complete solitude. It's adventurous. It's peaceful. It's a time to reflect and to learn all at the same time.
This past weekend I went backpacking up in Idaho on a trail I'd heard about for the first time just two weeks ago. We all knew what the plan was; it was to get to the lower lake where we could set up camp. We were able to do just that, but it required something of us to get there. This backpacking trip got me thinking a lot about the journey. It had me thinking about the goals we set, the focus we keep along the way there, and how we have to push ourselves to do more when we've accomplished what we set out to do.
Anyone who has hiked before knows that hiking on a trail is typically a lot more work than walking down the sidewalk. There is something about the journey along a trail and accomplishing something in the end that makes you push yourself a little harder than you would otherwise. Hiking a trail can mean mud. It can mean carrying a lot of weight. It can mean steep elevation gain. But it also doesn't matter. When you allow yourself to forget those things and take in everything around you then you will find ways around the mud, and you will make it up the steep trails. And guess what? It won't even seem that difficult.
Lower Palisades Lake was situated right in between two mountains. It had a creek running into it on one side and one running out on the other. It was surrounded by trees, home to a few moose, and contained the perfect spot to set up camp in an area overlooking the whole thing. We spent that night enjoying everything about that place. We explored as we gathered firewood and water. We made a fire and shared stories until the stars freckled the sky. We accomplished what we had set out to do and nobody was going to object to making that home for the next couple days.
The next day was the day we were going to leave camp at the lower lake and hike three more miles to Upper Palisades Lake. That portion of the hike seemed to be more strenuous than the portion from the day before, but the upper lake was beyond worth it. The lake was almost a Caribbean blue in parts, and it had a trail that ran all along its northeastern side. It had beaches, in some parts and rocks to climb around on in others. It had fish and crystal clear water. It was incredible.
Why do I tell you all of this? Because there is a lot to be learned from every day if we just take time to think about it. The journey to the destination, the time spent at the destination and pushing ourselves to go further into something we never would have pushed ourselves to do before is something that has helped me a lot this year. That's probably why it keeps popping up in my life so much. So set a goal, enjoy the journey, and don't stop once you've accomplished what you set out to do.