It’s no secret I enjoy hiking, especially with my sister. I may be the oldest and bossiest, but it’s one of the times she’s in charge. I listen and respect her vast experience, wealth of knowledge, practicality, and sheer grit. We have racked up many miles through our years on foot with some stunning scenery, unique opportunities, and funny stories along the way.
Our recent exploration west (the first hiking trip together in six years) led us into the Black Hills of South Dakota. The drive west was its own road trip adventure. From the Atlantic Ocean through the amber waves of prairie and farm lands to the Badlands and majestic mountains of the west, stunning formations, exciting explorations, fresh air (Ponderosa Pine!), time together, and extraordinary views dominated each day’s adventures. We even hiked down into Wind Cave (another story for another day).
As little girls, we hiked with our dad in the summers while on vacation at the same working ranch in the Rockies of Colorado. Before each trail hike, we always looked up in awe of the daunting task ahead wondering if our momentum, lungs, and little chicken legs would get us to the top (and, let’s be honest, excited to see what snack daddy would have for us at the top). Of course, when we reached the top, taking in the view, eating our snack, and basking in our accomplishment, our perspectives grew. Daddy innately understood why we needed to climb a mountain every now and then; it was his quiet way of teaching us about life’s challenges and hardships. When we climbed mountains, we faced hurdles, obstacles, and problems to solve while on the trail using our attitude, effort, and strength. When we faltered, he always reminded us to “step where I step.” We experienced first-hand how these same personal super-powers on each mountain hike are ever-present within us as we overcome challenges in everyday life.
On our first morning, my energy and anxiety were high and ready to go. It was hot and we did a loop trail of about 3.5 miles early in the morning. On the rocks, never my favorite, Beck reminded me to “step where I step” as a way to encourage me forward. By the time we completed this first hike, my muscle-memory kicked into familiar gear. With so much to explore in the first day, I wanted to keep going but listening to my body was paramount in the moment. The temp was hovering 98 and my body was still adjusting to the altitude, so it was time for less sun and lots more hydration.
“Step where I step“…simple words with powerful punch. While each of us desire our own path, it pays to sometimes stop a moment, take a deep cleansing breath, and start again with proven steps. These steps often showcase the personal super-powers to keep on climbing the path. The mountain (or the cave), no matter how big or rocky it is (and I swear it grows as I climb), is no match for the faith and desire to successfully climb. Attitude, effort, and personal strength are everything in life, especially in climbing. Mountains are meant to be climbed. Problems are meant to solved. All are critical learning experiences; some in sorrow and sadness, others in success and JOY. Each mountain serves a higher purpose to showcase how stronger, wiser, resilient, grace-filled, or hopeful we are in physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual ways.
While we often can’t control what happens to us, we do control how we see and climb the mountains in our life. We can look at the mountains as being in the way or as THE WAY to personal growth and success (or as momma would sing to remind me to, “bloom and grow forever”). We always have a choice. We can stand at the bottom overwhelmed and initially defeated, or we can dig down deep in our resource well to find the very best way within ourselves to climb onward, encouraging one another, just like Beck: “Step where I step!”
South Dakota was a fantastic adventure! The trip helped to re-center, recharge, rejuvenate, and restore after six challenging years. So here’s to each of us finding clever ways to fearlessly hike the mountains and caves in our paths on our journey. And please know I’m hiking (and singing) beside you. Feel free to step where I step. Please take care of yourself as you care for others; may you be blessed and be a blessing, friends. 🙂