Lessons From the Mountain

I was in Switzerland with a friend on September 9, 2018, and we were on a mission: to hike from Gimmewald to Schilthorn. Sounded doable. From an elevation of 4,472 feet up to 9,774 feet. It would be over 6 miles of hiking over rocky terrain. No big deal, we are Ironman finishers, right?

Wrong. Big deal. Huge deal. I was gasping for air for the better part of four hours. More importantly, I didn’t anticipate the emotional firestorm that would hit me. I felt anger, fear, awe, sadness, pride, frustration, joy, and more.

My plan changed several times. I started saying “I will hike for 20 minutes and rest,” which evolved to, “I will take small steps and rest at each trail marker.”

We were a little off course and ended up between Birg and Schilthorn. Turn left to continue for another 90 minutes to Schilthorn or turn right to continue another 40 minutes to Birg, then take a cable car to Schilthorn. We rerouted to Birg (at 8,707 feet).

It’s true – we did not accomplish our mission of hiking to Schilthorn for brunch. What is also true is that we enjoyed a five minute cable car ride from Birg to Schilthorn, completed a strenuous hike, and enjoyed brunch.

Lessons learned: My mindfulness practice helped me sit with all the emotions, then and now. Noticing everything that came up and continuing to move forward was challenging but rewarding. Taking those smallest steps forward helped me achieve my goal – my revised goal.

 What are you leaving behind on the way up?