Mountain climbing therapy
I love this quote! It rings true for me and is symbolic of my personal transformation.
Five years ago, I simply could not have imagined that I would be climbing mountains for fun. Seeking new rigorous trails, taller/steeper mountaintops, and celebrating successfully navigating cliff trails (well, okay, minor cliffs).
Yet, it is on the mountain top, that I see most clearly. It is here that I feel centered and in my equation; in touch with who I am and what I want in this great life. Here, I am accomplished and strong…brave and fearless…happy and grateful. And, it is here that I find the courage to do hard things.
As I climb to greater heights and challenge myself at new levels, I’m at peace with my innermost self — my greatest hopes, desires and dreams. My fears, hurts and worries. My strength, determination and stamina. Yep, it’s here on the mountaintop I sort out the answers to life’s toughest questions and open myself up to: What now? And, what next?
I’m not sure how it happened, this love of mountains and the climb. But I credit my very first mountain – Oberg on the North Shore of Lake Superior in MN – and my transformation coach, Leif Anderson. It was in that very first climb where I said more “f” bombs than not and dreaded the process of the climb at 381 lbs in the winter and in snowshoes, that I learned indeed I can do it! I am capable and strong. I can climb mountains, reach new heights, and see from a whole new perspective.
Yep, it was on Oberg Mountain in weight-loss boot camp in November 2010 that I first learned I could conquer the mountain – literally and figuratively. And once I stopped letting my mind limit me, I began to conquer myself. This, of course, is an ongoing process. Now, I’m just a mountain climbing girl. It is my exercise of choice for mind, body and spirit.
Mountain climbing therapy: good for the soul
These past two weeks, as I ventured out to do hard things in my beloved Downeast Maine, I sought out big and new mountains in my favorite place on earth — Acadia National Park. My first climb was to be a solo climb to process a personal loss in my life and ponder what will come next in my beautiful and unfolding story.
I knew exactly what I wanted to climb on this day – my beloved Penobscot Mountain. I love this mountain! It’s a combination of a short challenging vertical climb up Spring Trail, then a long gradual ascent on the open side of the mountain offering spectacular views of the Atlantic and neighboring mountains and islands, and finally a nice stretch of trail winding across and over a creek and through the woods where you needed to have your wits about you to avoid a tumble.
But of course, just like in life, plans change. The mountain on this day offered me the opportunity to meet and climb with two lovely ladies from Jacksonville, Florida. They had not climbed a mountain before and welcomed some navigational help. They were fit, active and fun and we quickly learned we had much in common.
So we climbed Penobscot as a threesome and I got to know two beautiful souls/new friends – Ruk and Lisa – as I lead them up and back down the mountain. In the process, we forged new trail together without getting lost, which is just what this directional challenged girl needed. And, although I had planned solo, truth be told, I valued the companionship on this day. It was a beautiful climb.
Later in the week, I had the opportunity to climb Penobscot and Sargent Mountains with my dear friend, Anne, and her husband John. We forged new trail and I conquered a new mountain top – Sargent Mountain. On the way down Sargent, we tackled the Eastern Cliff Trail offering a new challenge, awesome views, and the accomplishment that we did it. Not to mention the perfect dose of friendship and companionship which I needed on that particular day for my very heavy heart.
My third mountain climb was familiar and much needed therapy. I climbed my beloved Blue Hill Mountain with my favorite dog and mountain climbing companion, Bud. Blue Hill Mountain is my hometown mountain in Maine and holds a very special place in my heart.
This trip up Blue Hill Mountain offered needed bonding time and companionship with my beloved Bud. When we reached the top of the mountain overlooking Blue Hill we stopped for a chat about love and life and pondered: what next? I’m not sure how memorable it will be for Bud, but for me, this climb offered needed closure and it’s one I will always cherish. I’m so glad there was a “local” there to capture my moment with Bud on the mountaintop. The series of photos she took are precious to me.
Conquering mountains, conquering self
Five years ago when I started this blog, I didn’t think twice about the master title: She Climbed Until She Saw. This comes directly from Compendium and the series, “She,” which I love and have posted on my personal bulletin board.
Although when I started and titled my blog I had not climbed a mountain, I knew there were mountains in my future — literally and figuratively. This quote is symbolic of my very personal transformation journey. A journey toward healthy living – inside and out. A journey to find myself. To put myself in the equation of my own life, and honor my needs. To reach new heights and achieve my greatest potential. A journey toward wholeness and happiness. And, a journey wrought with opportunities to conquer personal demons and ultimately find self-love and self-acceptance. The greatest gift.
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, it’s ourselves.”
This quote from Sir Edmund Hillary — a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer and philanthropist who became one of the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest — is the perfect translation. Sir Edmund was definitely on to something for it is indeed in the process of conquering mountains, that I have conquered myself (of course, a work in progress…still conquering!).
The mountains I climb are not the biggest, tallest or hardest in the world – but they are powerful for me. The mountains I seek meet the sea in the perfect collision of strength and beauty. Like me, they’re constantly changing and evolving. They were here long before me and will stand strong long after I’ve gone. But it is indeed the climb itself is where the growth begins. And the climb is all about ME.
It’s about the physical challenge of pushing myself harder than I did last time. Conquering a new summit or challenging trail – because I can! Let’s face it, that in and of itself is a huge victory! And, I get to prove it over and over again. It’s about being in nature and connecting with the larger universe, being totally present and aware of the beauty and largeness around me.
It’s also about tackling my own physical and mental barriers, pushing past fear, reaching new heights and taking on new challenges in the name of living my best life, my happiest life — a whole life. It’s about figuring out how to give back more than I get. How to live with compassion and grace. How to be fully in my equation always, while continuing to grow and evolve as a person. How to be the best me I can be and touch someone, leave something behind.
These are the things that drive me to climb mountains. And yes, it is indeed in the journey of the climb itself that I conquer myself.
How very cool is that?
P.S. If you want to see more of beautiful Acadia National Park mountains and Blue Hill, click on my photo gallery below. And if you are planning a trip to Acadia, connect with me here, I’ve got lots of great tips.
Read other/related blogs about the mountain climb:
Three lessons I learned on the mountaintop (May 2015, on my 3 year anniversary)
Climbing mountains, getting strong (Dec. 2014)
My personal journey to climb the mountain (Nov. 2010)