I unplugged from the Matrix for a few days last week to head to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  On Thursday of last week,  Ron and I hiked up to the top of Mount Washington. It is 6,288 feet.

Ok, so, I lead outdoor fitness adventures- FitVentures- and I run and jump all over the place and keep on going in the most crazy situations. So how can I say this? This hike kicked my butt. We began at 8:30am and finished at 8pm. That’s 11.5 hours of walking, climbing, crawling in about 5 different climates with a few breaks here and there. 11.5 hrs to travel 8 miles.

We started off in a happy way, a little bit of rain, but not too bad. We hiked, and hiked, and hiked and noticed we weren’t above the treeline yet, so we hiked some more. And then, after what seemed like forever,we were above the tree line and it leveled out for a bit and there was sunshine! So we caught our breath and had some snacks. After that we were faced with an almost vertical rock face.  It looked unclimbable. But we climbed it. Kept a steady pace, but it went on and on and was very challenging. By then we had been hiking about 5 hours. The terrain began to look like a different planet, kind of like the bottom of the ocean. The weather turned ‘soupy’. Mist and fog to the point where we couldn’t see more than 20 feet, maybe 30. We got through that little section. Then straight up the rocks again. This time it started to pour down rain. Sideways. Very windy. We were working our bodies so hard that we didn’t feel cold. But we couldn’t see, and we couldn’t really hear through our hoods. I was on all fours, literally climbing and scrambling over the wet rocks. I saw one cairn, nothing else, made it there and looked for the next. Luckily they are only spread 30 feet apart for just such a day. It was so preposterous that I found I was laughing a lot. Ron asked if I was ok, because I think I was singing.

I was working my body very hard. It was over 6 hours by then. I didn’t feel pain and I didn’t feel overheated. Just moving from one step to the next, never knowing how much farther we had to go because we couldn’t see. I have to say I very much enjoyed the experience. I felt rough and tough and knew I was pushing past my edge- to that point where you get stronger. And not just my body in this case. I was definitely working my mind. Teaching myself, literally, that if I keep taking the steps towards my goal- there is no choice but to arrive at it. And we did! It was so foggy and rainy and windy that we couldn’t see where we were going and wandered around a parking lot for 10 minutes before we figured out how to get to the summit building. We took a 20 minute break there- refilled our waters, changed socks, ate a snack, and then we were off again!

Going down was fun, too. We took a different route. The rocks were slippery from the rain, and we still couldn’t see, so we were a little slower than we would have been otherwise. At about 7pm my mind just shut down. I am not sure how I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I just kept moving, but my good mood and bright spirits were just gone. Like a switch had been thrown. No crying, no whining, just nothing. Zombified. When we finally got back to our lodge I was a little concerned I would never want to hike again. I was honestly a little put off. Like someone made that mountain so darn big just to piss me off.

After a hot shower, a meal and some sleep I was feeling better and just looking back at the whole experience in awe. I pushed past my edge, found more, then pushed past my edge that I didn’t even know was there, found MORE, and pushed past that next edge that I hadn’t imagined existed, and somehow found EVEN MORE! I don’t know where I pulled that last hour from. I want to try it again!

I think our minds are much more powerful than we give them credit for. I was aware of my mind’s determination to just keep putting one foot in front of the other about 2 hours into the hike. And I kept up that determination for 10.5 hours. After that, most of my mind shut down, but my body kept going because some little part of me tells me there’s no other option. We wanted to be out of there by dark, so moving forward is the only option. So we did.

So, I ask you, how can you challenge yourSelf physically AND mentally? What are you afraid of? What challenge can you give yourSelf? Write it here so it’s ‘out’ there…

Go For It!!

Your Fitness Coach,

Miranda Zukowski