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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

brutal, but good

Hey, I'm not talking about anything you shouldn't be thinking of, okay?

I'm talking about Mount Katahdin in Maine. Sure, it's only 5,000 feet or so, but it's brutal to climb. I read somewhere it was the most difficult climb east of the Rockies, and now, a week after the dirty deed, I can still fully agree.

I volunteered with my church's youth group. I'd been halfway up it once, and loved the view. And thinking like a brand new marathoner, I was thinking, hey, I can climb halfway, so the rest should be just as easy, right?

Take a look at the pic to the right. See those little people in the centre? Yup, they're people, and yup, those are the size of the boulders one must climb.

I'm not going to sugar coat this climb. It was brutal. It made me hurt. It pushed me to the absolute limit of my endurance. I suffer from a fear of heights and wear bifocals. Placing a foot down or climbing up on a rock at the top of a mountain where you can't judge its distance, and trusting the blue paint that says this is the way to go, is just something I don't do everyday.

But I did it.

And the trip down scared me. I couldn't see over the edge, and the boulders felt as though they were progressively getting bigger and bigger. My knees shook, and the only way I could confirm they'd hold me up was for me to lock them.

Our youth pastor, Robin, commiserated with me, and we encouraged each other to keep going. She ached as much as I did.

I must also mention the time I got my backside wedged between two enormous hunks of granite, and our trusty guide, AKA our senior pastor, Vernon, had long disappeared over the edge of the trail down to Chimney Pond. Only the fear of needing to be rescued was greater than the pain clamping down on my hips. Humiliation helped me unwedge myself.

We ran out of water, too. Thankfully, we discovered a massive wall of granite with clear spring water streaming from it. Makes one appreciate the basics of life, it does.

We made it down, all of us. By now, I'd twisted both ankles, bent back a finger and scraped my knees, but I was glad I did it.

And equally glad that Robin was thinking of a more benign summer trip next year. A walk around the swan pond, anyone?

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