It was like 5:30 or 6 in the morning when I embarked on this early morning hike. Little Devil’s Tower trail. 1.5 miles of strenuous terrain. Strenuous terrain. Uphill. Rocks. Logs. Questionable, “Is it, isn’t it” trails. I’m sensing a pattern here, are you? This seems to be the description of many of the trails I often end up taking. I’ll take it. It makes me feel alive. How is that for cheesy?
Days before, this particular morning, I had attempted another hike. A different trail. A different place. Now that I think about it, attempt is not the right word. At least not in that context. I actually had taken it, but it started out with fear and ended with panic with peace and fear in between. It was very strange.
When I started that hike, days before, the path was not as defined as I’m use to. There was no worn out foot path starting out and some of the identifying markers were missing. It was kind of like looking for water in the desert. And truth be told, I feared my ability to find my way back. Scared I wouldn’t be able to find my way back? Me? That is new. I have never worried about things like that. I may not always know where I’m going, but I always know how to get back. Always. So, why I suddenly had this fear was unbeknownst to me.
I tried to push it aside and not think anything of it. New place…maybe that was just the problem. But could it be? I mean, I’m always venturing out into new places. Why would it bother me now? Eh. Let’s see what the hike brings. I thought it would pass as I got back into my element of hiking. Then I reached my final destination for that hike.
The hike went on further. Further than where I stopped, I mean. It was a very long and “not so much shaded” trail, but I had gone as far as I had planned on going. It was hot. I was feeling off and I hadn’t wanted to travel overly far. That fear of not finding my way back just wouldn’t ease up. I kept thinking about the woman that was hiking, wondered off the path to use the restroom, and then couldn’t find her way back to the trail. It would be years before her body was found next to a journal of her last days. I feared that would be me. I digress and that is all depressing, so let’s move on.
When I reached my destination, there was this high peak. Yes, climbing! I love climbing and pushing my luck. Or so I thought. Normally, I climb without hesitation. I mean, if there is something to climb and get a better view…I’m all about it. At one time. Not this day, though. No of course not.
I started up this very narrow trail up the peak and as I ascended into the heights of this peak, this panic and fear set in. I was sweating. My heart was racing and I was shaking. The higher I went, the harder it was for me to breathe. But…I was determined and I had really gone too far to turn around without seeing it through first. Wit that, I fought through it and reached the top. I took a quick look around. I may have snapped a picture, but I can’t find it (if I did). Then I was out of there as fast as I could….kind of. I made my way back down the rock very, very slowly and mainly on my behind. I was pretty sure that my legs would give out on me. A stranger handed me his hand to help the rest of the way down. My fear was apparently obviously. Fantastic.
Thinking about that hike as well as the two other massive panic attacks I had suffered within the last few days, on this final day of my trip…well, I was bound and determined to conquer my fears and to do what I knew I could do. Survive and prevail.
As I embarked on this Little Devil’s Tower trail…I was empowered. I mean, I had just scaled the side of a mountain chasing after mountain goats…WITHOUT thinking twice. I could do this. I mean, that is, if I could get up the side of the mountain without keeling over. Did I mention how out of shape that I had allowed myself to become?
As I walked this trail and taking in all the beauty. Meeting the mule deer and catching the sun watching me from behind trees, I became more empowered and more confident. God and I have never had a great relationship, but that day…I knew he was good and it was all going to be okay. Then I realized that I was only half way done with my hike up the mountain. Seriously? Only half way up? The powers that be and I were going to have to have a talk. I mean…come on. More rocks? For the love of it all. One more rock. I swear just one more rocky path. But I trekked on.
I didn’t pay much attention to time, so I don’t know what time it really was when I reached this sign but I was ecstatic. I had done it, but then I realized that I still had to climb. You know…up. Yep, that is right. The trail hadn’t actually ended yet. I still had to go up. Rocks with questionable surfaces, gaps, and who knows what else. But you know what? I climbed like it was nobody’s business.
Without hesitation. Without fear. I climbed. And without breaking out into that cold sweat with the heart palpitations that made me feel like I was going to die. I climbed like I was 38 again. Okay, so maybe 37 would probably be more accurate, I don’t recall climbing anything in my 38th year of life. Well, the stairs to my apartment, but nothing challenging. Anyway, my point is….I climbed and it was so very much worth the view.
This by far was one of my absolute favorite views. I mean, I did get to see buffalo, so you know…it is kind of hard to compare to being inches away from buffalo. So very close, but back to my climb. That climb…I will make it again and again and again as chances allow. If you are out that way in the Black Hills, I recommend you do the same. The woman that asked me how much further would probably disagree, but sometimes you have to suffer the trials to reap the rewards. Even if that reward is just getting right with your soul while standing on the top of the world.
Have a beautiful day and tomorrow.
Montana Rose Photography