Why do I keep doing this to myself?
At 12,000+feet in elevation and 4 miles in, I had the view of Northern Arizona at my feet. Yet I couldn’t rationalize why I was putting my body and testing my mind for a grandiose view - it seemed too simple. The answer fell between my bruised legs and blistered feet, between my numb thumbs and sunburned scalp.
This wasn’t the hardest hike I’d done. It was moderate at best in comparison, considering we only came prepared for pleasant brisk weather - not 50 mph winds that intimidated me to my feet or hail that mocked us.
.8 miles away from the summit, I had pretty much lost feeling in my thumbs and nose, stopped trying to stop the snot from coming out of my nose, ignored the blisters on my feet (some only two-days old from a trip to Yosemite) and ignored the earache from the pressure the blast of winds were pouring on to the side of my face. I ignored the fact I had to pee and missed my opportunity a mile down where pine trees and wildflowers grew smaller and smaller the more I walked up.
I pretty much had given up and thought there was zero need for me to continue one more mile. Until my friend turned around and said this: Your mother crossed the desert for you to be here.
I resentented him a little. But it was the truth. Maybe this was the answer - although it felt masochistic and self-aggrandizing. But the emotional strength my mother has fostered all these years attests to the physical and mental abuses and difficulties she’s had to withstand. I always think of my parents on these hiking trips. I think about what they gave up to give me life; not just by leaving their home-country to a foreign one, but the fact my mom dedicated herself to raising my sister and me at 21 and 24 respectively. I’m 24 now and can’t imagine having the responsibility of another person’s life in my hands. Maybe that makes me naive and/or selfish. But I’ve had these talks with my mom before - about all the things she didn’t know she could do or opportunities she could have had. There is so much to her story. There are chapters of her life I haven’t gotten to yet with my invasive yet loving! questions.
After a few false peaks, I could finally see the summit. And in that moment I recognized that my mom had been walking her entire life toward something and returning with more. She didn’t just cross the desert in her early 20s, but soon after going into labor with me, she too crossed the few blocks in our neighborhood to get to the hospital where I would be born.
Finally after 4.8 miles~ and after crawling on all fours to Humphrey’s summit, I sat down and started laughing. Hysteria found me. It was only short-lived: standing on top of the highest point in elevation of my native-state. But I had made it.