I haven't been physically fit for the past few years now, mostly due to sports injuries as well as to my neglect to make time for rigorous physical activity. My multiple excuses have continually trumped my desire to engage in prolonged rigorous exercise, and therefore the latter has not seen the light of day as a priority in my life for the past 5 years.
However, in the last three days I went on two hikes; Harvey Mountain and the Little Onion.
For the Harvey Mountain hike, I trekked with a group of women known as the Friday girls. This group consists of women in their late 50s, 60s and 70s. These young chicks scurried up the mountain like mountain goats. Unbelievable. They were all in tremendously excellent physical condition, and clearly lived by the Bulkley Valley Backpackers motto: “We don't stop hiking because we get old. We get old because we stop hiking.” Each of these women had a joie de vivre with every boot step up the mountain, and each had the enthusiastic laughter of a young child with every step down on the descent. I'm sure the negative ions in the mountain air contributed to their zest for life and for outdoor activity.
I was nervous about going on these hikes for many reasons. It may have seemed odd to my sherpas that I was so nervous, since I had hiked Harvey Mountain many times in the past; the last time being almost 5 years ago with my sister, brother, brother-in-law and husband.
Well, the old grey mare just ain't what she used to be. Slower, creakier, stiffer, and older.
My joints and muscles for steep mountain trekking hadn't been lubed up for the past 5 years, and to compound matters, I had experienced severe acute peri-menopausal blood loss for 18 days just prior to the hike which left me completely drained. However, thank goodness for intravenous multi-vitamin and mineral boosts, healthy veggie smoothies rich in necessary nutrients, and naturopathic medicines in general!
Even though I was really nervous, I had already made up my mind to shelve all of the excuses that normally rolled off the tip of my tongue and brain for the past 5 years. I decided to at least attempt the hikes, whether or not I was eventually successful in climbing these mountains remained to be seen.
Anyway, back to my stellar sherpas.
Hilary, my almost 28 year old daughter, supported and helped me throughout the Harvey Mountain hike. Bibby, my almost 20 year old daughter, supported and helped me throughout the Little Onion Mountain hike.
While going up Harvey, Hilary walked by my side every step of the way. When I fell far behind the rest of the pack, going ever so slowly, and wondering if I could take another step because my heart and lungs felt like they were surely going to explode, in the most gentle, calm and loving tone, Hilary kept on saying to me, “You can do it mom, this will help you get into shape, go as slow as you need to go, because you can do it”.
On the descent, my muscle fatigue got the best of me and my legs started to violently tremble at the same time the weather decided to unleash its downpour. My legs were so weak and achy that crawling down the mountain the rest of the way on all fours seemed like a great idea at the time. Hilary stepped up to the plate again, and with her calm and loving encouragement, offered to take my backpack and said, “You can do this mom, we're almost there. You just need to get into better shape and you'll be doing this easily”.
While going up the Little Onion, again, I was nervous about my ability to hike the mountain. My aching muscles from the hike two days before, along with the sensation of my potentially exploding heart and lungs during relentless steep climbs, left me wondering whether I should turn back and call it a day. After all, the rain during that hike was unforgiving and showed no signs of letting up.
My other sherpa Bibby, with both arms held high in the air and with the enthusiasm of youth, cried out, “Mom, you've got this. You can do it!!!!” As I fell far behind the group, she too, stayed by my side every step of the way.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sherpa is “a member of a Tibetan people living on the high southern slopes of the Himalayas in eastern Nepal and known for providing support for foreign trekkers and mountain climbers”.
While Hilary and Bibby are not Tibetan nor am I a foreign trekker, these daughters of mine provided the much needed support, love and encouragement that I needed to accomplish what I set out to do on these treks. I could not have done it without them and I am so very grateful that they helped me rise above the Land of Excuses and into the Mountains of Bliss.
Thank you girls. High fives all the way around.
I love you.