Our church, Bethel Lutheran Church in Northfield, sends a group of rising 10th graders on a hiking trip through Christikon Camp in Montana each year. My daughter, Rose, went on this trip when she was a 10th grader. I had wanted to go along as a chaperone back then but couldn't make it happen at that time. Last year when my Dad was so sick and Owen headed off on the Tour Divide bike ride and it felt like everything in my world was falling apart I told Owen "Ok, you get to do the Tour and get away from it all for awhile. Next summer, I'm going on the Christikon trip with Ryan." I told our youth director, Barb, that I wanted to go on the trip, too. I think she took pity on me - or she was desperate for chaperones (or both). Anyway, earlier this year I knew that I would get to be a chaperone and get to spend a week on a trip with my son (and a bunch of other kids - 18 in all!)
|Our group - taken just before we started our grand hiking adventure|
So I did.
I suffered and struggled, especially on the first day when we were slated to hike 7 miles and climb 3,000 feet (we didn't make it that far and had to set up camp before our destination). The altitude hit me hard and I struggled to catch my breath. I fell behind on uphills and downhills and, yes, sometimes when I was just walking on the flat. I did not sleep well. I cried more than once. Even though I was part of a community made up of our hiking group of thirteen which included my son, I felt lonely. It rained. It hailed. It stormed. I struggled. I really, really, struggled.
|Approaching Diamond Lake just after it rained|
Here's the good stuff - which far outweighs the struggles:
I hiked for five days with nine fifteen-year-olds, another chaperone and two camp counselors/guides. I did not get hurt (save for one small blister) and did not fall off a cliff. I carried a 30+ pound backpack full of my gear and community gear. I helped set up tents, cook meals and hang food in "bear bags" way up in trees. I hugged kids, rubbed backs and sang silly songs. I marveled at the gorgeous mountains, lakes and sky. I oohed and aahed at the deer we say and at the fish jumping in the lakes.
|Our fearless and very capable guides/counselors - Molly and Thomas|
|Ryan and I on Day 3|
Overall, the experience was amazing - I like to say, "when I wasn't suffering, I was having a good time." But, really, it was amazing and I'm glad I went. That said, I am still trying to give myself credit for doing something awesome and for being strong enough to hike for five days carrying a big backpack. I've been struggling with feeling bad about my body and the fact that I'm weighing more now than ever before. I'm trying to feel good about my strong self even though I don't fit neatly into the image of "fit" that I have in my head. I have some work to do...progress in this department is a bit like hiking uphill with a backpack on my back...slow but (mostly) steady.
Fortunately, my body image frustrations aren't keeping me from heading out on my next grand adventure! Yep, tomorrow morning I set off on another grand adventure. My husband, Owen, and I along with three friends (Steve, Paul and Larry) are going to bike the North Star Bike Route from North Branch, MN to Canada. We plan to make it to Canada in three days - about 85 miles/day of riding. I feel completely spoiled as we will be traveling in style and staying in hotels and will have a support vehicle with us to carry our luggage and spare gear - what luxury!
And guess what? I'm still not in the best of shape and I still don't feel ready to go - but I'm going to do it anyway!