Saturday, October 19, 2013

Your Summit is Your Summit

I hiked to the summit of Mount Rose today.

It was one of my most intense and physically challenging (more mentally, actually!) day yet.  I was never an athlete growing up because I had asthma.  I was restricted from most sports so I pretty much coasted through adulthood pretty gimpy.  I never learned how to swim, I can't run, and I got sick a lot.  It wasn't until the asthma subsided in my mid-twenties after my move the States, that I started challenging the idea that I could not do things.  It was just not an acceptable way of life for me.  So slowly, I eased into physical activity and found yoga to be a natural fit.  Bit by bit, my audacity increased and so did my physical strength and I slowly started cycling on hills, sprint running (because I wanted to play pick-up ultimate frisbee - and I did), hiking long distances, skiing (I suck, but I still love it), and just this summer, lap swimming.

I have come a long way and we are so bad at this, but let me just say this:  I am proud of myself.  Extremely.

If you live in Reno, it seems like it's almost mandatory to summit Mount Rose at least once.  I think I might have made that up because I actually don't know anyone who's climbed it.  All week, I had the casual thought of hiking to the top of Mount Rose today since the weather will be gorgeous.  Absent of any other better offers, The Dutch and I made a go for it.  I did not research anything about this hike.  I just knew that it is possible and that I could do it - I have to.  I do interval training between swimming and running plus I rode my bike to work on Thursday (i.e. steep, seemingly endless hill on the way home).  I am on a roll, so why stop now?

As it turns out, I underestimated Mount Rose.

Mount Rose's elevation at the peak is 10,776 feet.  It is wedged between Reno and Tahoe, about 40 minutes south of Reno.  If you're familiar with the area, the actual mountain where the ski resort is is not Mount Rose.  The actual mountain is across the highway from it.  The entire distance, out and back, is 10 miles.  Sounds peanuts, right?  Well, what I did not read is that there is a 2,000 ft. elevation gain.  There is an easy ascend in the first 2.5 miles to the waterfall, but then you go down a meadow so it negates the minimal ascent prior to the waterfall. So, essentially, you're ascending 2,000 feet in just 2.5 miles.  Plus, the higher you get, the thinner oxygen is in the air. At almost 11,000 feet of almost entirely ascents (plus, we got lost so that added about 2 miles to entire hike), I was in over my head.


We never took breaks (my call) and the last mile of steep grades was excruciating.  I could seriously see the peak, only about half a mile away, but in my anger, impatience, and haste, I wanted to lash out and say, "I don't need to do this.  I want to turn back."  I guess this is what choking is.  And there must be a psychological explanation to it.

But I held my tongue.  One step in front of the other.  I am strong.  Breathless, but I NEED TO SUMMIT.  I could choose to turn around, yes, but then what?

And this is the profound beauty of a challenge like this.  No one asked you to do this.  Other people are not relying on you to summit.  You are only against yourself.  Your summit is your own.  Yours and no one else's.

I reached the summit, whole, and I had a moment.  I cried.  Yes, perhaps because of the 360 degree unobstructed and untouched beauty of the Sierras layered on top of each other, illuminated by the late afternoon sun.  Yes, perhaps, because I've never seen a vista like this in my entire life before, like I came upon something ethereal.  Yes, perhaps, because I climbed to get here, and not just jump out of a car.  But mostly, because I know myself more than I ever have.  A lot of times, our biggest trash talkers are ourselves and if we just shut up that naysayer inside that says, "You can't do it", chances are, you really can.


And now, some pictures.

The waterfall at 2.5 miles.

A teaser of what one might see up top...  Prod on!

The most nefarious 1 mile ever.  I almost quit on this bad boy. 
And there it is.  Top of the world. 
Start of the descent.
The sun started to set and we have a long way to go.

Then it was dark.  We only had one headlamp and 2.5 miles left.  Trying not to panic. 
But we got to see the moon rise!
We made it!
2,354 Calories? Really?

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