Such as.....how do I always forget that there are several sections where the incline is flatter? Isn't it much like life where we tend to focus on the challenging uphills or the fun downhills and forget to appreciate & remember the wonderful moments that just let us be? Because truthfully it was mainly on those flatter sections that I realized the birds were singing, the sun was shining, and I stopped to soak in the great colors that surrounded me. Yet throughout the year when I reflect on the hike, I almost never remember that there are flatter sections rather than a straight up and down trek.
I also was reminded of how much nature is truly the best decorator. Case in point, just look at these great color combos on this tree:
And because I took the time to stop and notice.....
....I also realized that there were a few other colorful things surrounding me in that section too:
If I would have kept going, focusing on getting the dogs to a water source...and/or getting Anna home to dig the ginormous tick out of her neck....then I never would have stopped to appreciate the small ways in which nature gifts us with its beauty...
I also thought a lot about prior treks up this "hill" and how much life has passed in the last five years. Seriously, how has it already been five years of climbing this sucker?! :) And I also realized that in a lot of ways during the last few weeks, I've felt myself...settling. Not necessarily settling for less, but more so just settling into myself a little bit better. There's still plenty I'm moving forward toward, but I'm also realizing that I'm getting softer, more tired, and slowing down in general. There's no more anger at the world (well not regarding my own crap...I'll let myself still be mad at KONY, environmental degradation, etc etc) and I don't feel like I need to feel guilty or push myself so hard.
As I start my 5th year in the same house, in the same job, teaching the same classes, driving the same car, doing many of the same hobbies, with the same dogs and the same cat, etc etc...I realize that I'm becoming somewhat comfortable. As happy as I am for many of the changes on the horizon, change has also become a scarier notion than it once was, as this is the longest I've ever cumulatively lived in one place, the longest I've ever continuously held the same job, and definitely the longest I've ever been the primary caretaker for anything other than myself. Change has always been my comfort zone...thus this territory that I'm entering is new and different in many ways. There are still plenty of areas where I'm hoping to see additional growth in the next few years, and I don't know that Portland will be my continual forever home...but for now, I seem to be content with just trying to be okay with being where and how I am....and this is something different for me. I'm still trying to figure out how this works in fact :) And while I recognize I'm "slowing" down, I'm not so sure that my outdoor buddy is so ready for me to reign in as much as I potentially may. This period also seems to be somewhat about maturity and a bit about trying to move my life into a different dimension that what it has been in years past--all things that I'm ready to be moving toward.
How this settling manifested itself on the hike...is that I didn't fly up the mountain like I have in the last three years. We took our time, we stopped for water pouring in our mouths, if we needed to slow down we did. We also didn't run down the mountain...at all, which we'd done during two of the last five years. We walked down the entire thing. And when I got nervous on the loose rock sections, I let myself crab crawl down when I wanted to without feeling silly or embarrassed. And if I'm totally honest, as I signed my name in the registry and snapped some pictures of the dogs & I at the top, it dawned on me that five years has been a good run...and I honestly don't know that I need a sixth to come.
Interestingly, each year there's something new to see. Last year it was the beautiful wildflowers on the summit. This year however was the first year that it's ever been so clear that I noticed the mountain off in the distance:
This shot is a pano from the top and in the middle you can see the ridge section that you trek up to get to the registry where you can sign your name:
The rest of the hike, I literally thought about how beautiful of a day it was...and also focused on professional development ideas, which seems to be the primary topic I think about on hikes these days. (I designed a new class outline on the Hebo Mtn hike actually...)
And there ya have it, a beautiful day, an incredible hike, free flowing thoughts, and five years of trekking all rolled into one.
And now we are happily tucked into our individual beds :)