Filling Myself More Deeply with Life on Moriah
Submitted by Nancy
Mountain: Moriah (4,059)
Date:July 25, 2009
Weather: Clouds and sun, humid
Time: 8 hours 40 minutes
Miles: 9 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,400 feet
Trails: Carter-Moriah trail out and back
"There are so many perfect moments in a day, and I don't want to miss a single one - the smiles of my daughters, my wife's embrace, a slobbering welcome from my new puppy, the company of an old friend, the feel of beach sand beneath my feet, and the warm Uruguayan sun on my face. These moments bring time to a stop for me. I savor them and let each one become a miniature eternity, and by living these small moments of my life so fully, I defy the shadow of death that hovers over all of us, I reaffirm my love and gratitude for all the gifts I've been given, and I fill myself more and more deeply with life."
Nando Parrado, author of Miracle in the Andes, spent 72 days lost in the Andes after his plane crashed high in the mountains in the fall of 1972.
"...it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful."
We meet at 5 am, have breakfast at the Tilton Diner, and then stop at the Mountain Bean in Twin Mountain to get our summit lunches...all of our favorite stops on the way to the Whites. The waitress knows our faces and sits us in her section at the Tilton Diner, and Chris and Elizabeth greet us with smiles and a big "HEY" when we walk into the Mountain Bean. These moments of recognition, of I am glad to see you make me feel like Norm on Cheers -- where everybody knows your name. Back in the car, the mountains looking majestic out the windshield - it's going to be a great day!
We get to the trailhead and manage to squeeze our car into a space on the narrow residential road. We head up Moriah at 9:19 AM. There is no gradual start here, it just goes up right away and stays up the entire hike. There is no flat. It's like an escalator, steadily progressing up, except my heart and lungs are the motor. Pat and I have been doing a lot of exercise lately, so I am wondering how we will do. But my body is up for the challenge and we are both happy to be back on the trail.
The lower part of Carter-Moriah Trail is dark today and very very wet…lots of mud and water everywhere - and yes slugs on the trees. Dejah, my daughter's 4-year-old yellow lab, and Pinta, 1-year-old rescue dog, love the wet; they are very happy. It is not long before we work our way out of the mud crud and onto the rock ledges. There has been a lot of rain lately, so the mud on the lower trail translates to slippery wet ledges higher up. We slow down, working our way up the greasy rock carefully. I can take anything the Whites dish out - that's how I am feeling today.
We work our way up the mountain. I finally spy blue skies through the trees. I say to Pat, "I am hopeful." Translation - the summit is in sight. But, to my surprise, the trail heads down into the woods and the blue sky disappears. OK, I get it, not yet. We keep climbing...higher and higher until…ah, here's the summit. I am hopeful again. And then we crest the land and head back down into the woods. We work our way back up and into blue sky zone again, get hopeful all over again, then head back down. Like life, this trail is full of ups and downs and false hope, just like the Stony Brook Trail that climbs Moriah from the other side.
Finally, we see the sign pointing to the short spur trail leading to the top, climb up a few boulders and here we are...summit heaven. Ahhhh. We eat lunch while enjoying the opportunity to be on our butts instead of our feet.
Then we begin our photo shoot. You see, we have started a program called the 4,000-Footer Challenge and have been blessed with all kinds of support and encouragement and help from so many people. So we came up with the idea of taking pictures of a thank you sign on a summit and using that for a Thank You page on our website. What a blast we are having!
I am standing on the summit, arms stretched to the blue sky, holding a THANK YOU banner, posing for Pat to take a picture. I start thinking about what I am doing and a huge smile spreads across my face. I don't have to smile for the camera...I am already smiling within. How appropriate that I am standing on a mountain summit, one of my favorite places on earth, in the sun, with my best friend, holding up a Thank You for the whole world to see! It feels like I want to jump out of my skin and scream my thanks to whoever made this moment possible. I don't know who to thank. What I do know is that I am feeling jubilant in this moment, and incredibly grateful that I have this moment to live. And my thank you is beaming to the world from the summit of a 4,000-footer.
The "Thank you" fills me. It is all I am feeling. There is not a second in the sun on the summit of Moriah that I am not feeling grateful for the warmth on my face and the light breeze coming through my toes. Each moment brings something that my heart rejoices in. I am thankful for the never-ending views all around me, with the mountains fading into the horizon. I am grateful for the real turkey and cranberry sauce in my Lost Pilgrim wrap, and the opportunity to rest on a warm rock. And I am thankful my body has the strength and stamina to bring me to this beautiful place. I am grateful that the dogs are happy eating their marrowbones on the summit and letting us enjoy our lunches without their hot breath on our sandwiches. And I am reveling in the fun of our photo shoot, playing with different ways to say our thanks.
After we try every thank you pose we can think of, we pack up and head down the mountain after an hour on the top -- back through the ups and downs of the false summits. I am grateful for each break in the down to go up a bit.
We are able to avoid MOST of the mud until I step in the same mud hole that Pat stepped in on the way up…with the same results. Mud up and into my boot, surrounding my foot with sludge. That feels good. I am grateful that the mud bogs are only boot deep and not hip deep and that both Pat and I can laugh at ourselves.
We rest on the rock ledges while I change socks and take a moment to see what is around me. I have found that the more I hike, the more I notice the details -- the finer, smaller features in nature that makes me say, "Oh - look at these!" When I first started hiking, I was blown away by the big stuff - the views. Now I also love the baby pink and lavender color of blueberries before they become blue, the drops of water on the leaves twinkling in the sun, the delicate reindeer moss, the beautiful deep blue of the blue bead lilies, and the patterns and ripples in the granite beneath our feet.
We head back down into the wet woods making good time. Arriving back at our car, I take my soaked boots and socks off and slip on my sandals, ahhhhhhhh. I love the exhilaration of exhaustion as I sink into the passenger seat and take my first gulp of Diet Snapple, phewwwwwww!
We drive home. It takes us three hours and I am so glad! I love the time in the car on the way up anticipating the hike and the hours driving home talking about the hike and sharing our lives. It is Pat and Nancy special time. And I am grateful for my husband's warm embrace welcoming me home.
There is something to be grateful for every single moment of every single day. I am often too busy or too pre-occupied to notice or reflect deep enough to find the gratitude. But when I am hiking, life slows down and it is easier to notice and to feel. When I am hiking I am always grateful, and I know it.