I’d like to say that I like hiking, because I’d like to be one of those cool, outdoorsy women who can do anything; but…I hate hiking!
In the Pacific Northwest this summer, we dropped anchor on our sailboat in all these beautiful coves in the Islands. We took our little inflatable tender to shore. Sometimes there would be a dock, sometimes just rocks and a shore. Once we stepped onto land, the hike would begin. There were always tourists that had made the journey, encouraging our next steps.
“Just follow this trail! It’s awesome! Eventually, you will find yourself on a ledge. From there you will be able to see a lake that you can jump into and swim. You will LOVE IT!”
I’ve got issues. I’m not in great shape, both cardiovascularly and in terms of my right foot and both knees. It’s okay, right? Isn’t that what I teach? It’s okay to not be exactly okay.
And maybe at my age, 57, my meter for judging what is okay is in need of some calibration!
Today, in the Desolation Sound, in the Teakern Arm, I had an epiphany.
We took the tender (our little dinghy) to a dock near a beautiful waterfall and began the hike.
The climb was aggressive, in terms of the incline and decline, and in terms of the rocks, tree roots, branches, and actual ropes needed to go hand over hand and keep your weight back, etc.
I had this refrain repeating in my head that went like this: “F*ck me, f*ck me, f*ck me…”
When I finally made it to the lake, I told my waaay more athletic friends that I didn’t think “F*ck me” was very motivating. I wondered aloud why I chose such a negative refrain. We discussed how it might feel different to repeat “I can do it!” over and over in my head for the dreaded return hike.
While I was floating in the lake, luxuriating in the pristine water, I fantasized about finding another way to get back to the dock, one that involved swimming instead of hiking. A few days before, in another magical location, I was able to cut the hike back in half by swimming across the lake! This time, however, there was no way back other than the way we had come.
So… on my return, I made “I can do it” my mantra.
My shoes were soggy and my bathing suit bottoms were dripping water down my legs as I was silently repeating, “I can do it” in my head.
My husband Lowell was assisting me with “put this foot here, now side step there, put this foot down here, now hold onto that tree root and step there…” while I tried to quiet my self-deprecating inner critic voice that was stage whispering “your husband is helping a 100-year-old woman on the hike!”
I made it to the end and was able to high five my athletic friends with a smile on my face!
“I can do it” helped, and morphed into “I DID IT!”