But I silently and immediately began to panic. Looking back, there was no reason for it. We had our packs stocked with enough for two days in the wilderness. We are consistently over prepared and we were going to a highly populated series of trails extremely close to civilization.
But I wasn't ready. At least that was what I kept telling myself. I was not ready to summit a peak. I had not looked at the map yet. I did not know where we were really going. I was not ready for this.
We had a rough start, I apologized for my grumpiness as we had trouble figuring out where the trailhead even was. A sign told us that the road to Wilson was closed, and part of the trail as well, but we had several miles before we would hit that and know for sure.
And then we hiked, and it was gorgeous, and it was beautiful, and it was amazing but something kept coming back up in my mind: "I AM NOT READY FOR THIS."
We were about 4 miles in, at a point where we had to decide if we would hike on to the summit or if we would turn back. We did not have enough hours left to try and summit the peak, not because we were running out of daylight, but because we needed to get back for an early dinner with family. There was a series of cabins that were closed up for the season and we walked in among them. I sat down on the steps and cried, a big awful cry.
The nagging voice had won. I felt defeated, incapable, and a failure. Looking back on it, I find it hilarious. I was crying because I thought I could not do something that I was in the process of doing relatively well. But I could not see that then. All I could see was that I was not where I needed to be, I was not good enough to do the things that I wanted to do. That was all I could see even though it was the furthest thing from the truth.
The truth was that I wanted to hike these trails to see parts of California I had never seen before: to get above the smog and the freeways and experience the series of mountains that surround me every day. They are the very mountains that brought me back to California after college. They are the mountains I dreamed of living in when I was a kid. And I wanted to summit these peaks to see what the mountains really had to offer, what they were hiding under their canopies of forest, and what they could teach me. I did not want to climb them to prove I could, I wanted to climb them so I could become a part of them.
That day, I could have experienced all of that but I kept myself from it because I kept thinking about what I was physically capable or incapable of instead of the beauty of what it was I was doing.
As I explained my frustrations to Chris through my tears he reminded me of what was really important: we were out in nature exploring our own unknown. We were out amongst the trees and the birds, away from the city and the suburbs, experiencing things we could not do in front of a TV or by reading blogs or even books. We were living. As I stopped crying he pointed to a big swing tied to two pine trees and said, "I'll bet you'll feel a lot better if you swing on that swing."
I got on the swing and we laughed as we remembered we hadn't seen anyone else for miles. It was just us, the trees, the birds, and this swing. And I realized, he was right.