All hikers have that one hike that has pushed them to the limit. The one that they weren’t sure they were mentally or physically prepared for, mine was Seven Summits. It is pretty much what it sounds like, you hike to 7 peaks in one day. I went on this insane adventure with my cross country team last week. My feelings oscillate between a deep sense of satisfaction from achieving such an accomplishment to how diabolical is our coach for finding such an extreme manner in which to torture his runners?!
The plan was to meet at 5:15am by the courthouse. Half asleep, I tore bits of my bagel and chewed knowing I needed to fuel up, waiting for the whole group to arrive. Together we proceeded to the Bear Creek Trailhead. Now, it was pitch black at this point as we began our trek following the one person with a head lamp, certainly a bit unnerving and quite a trust exercise. After a half mile we merged onto the Ballard trail. The next two hours were the hardest part of the day, straight up, with an elevation gain of just over 4,000 feet.
Heading up to Ballard was our biggest assent, because once you’re so high there isn’t so much work to get to the next peak. The trail has thirty something switch backs and is extremely steep the whole way. I thought I was in pretty good shape, until I tried to keep with my teammates. Who knew I was among gods and goddesses? I was a bit behind and was still out of breath, but I made it, and that’s all that counts right?
After the initial climb the physical aspect of the hike was less challenging, but the mental part became tough. After Ballard there is no defined trail, you basically see where you want to go and determine a route. This is not as easy as it sounds; you are walking on ridges, and climbing up loose rock. I just had this fear of falling, because if I lost my footing, I don’t know how I would stop. But, slowly and surely I made it to every cliff with minimal stumbles and screams.
After the 7th peak we were told to run down this jeep trail that led to Bridal Veil Falls. And, as you can imagine, the whole running thing was not quite followed through, it was more of a walk/jog. The hike itself was 8 miles, and now we still had 9 miles left until we were in town. We sort of felt we were done, but we weren’t even close! The whole way I was in pain from the hike, but somehow I made it to the bottom where we met by a car that brought us to the heaven we call Brown Dog.
So, even though I complained, was slow and felt positive I wouldn’t make it down, I did. My achievement? A huge sense of accomplishment and some pretty sore legs. Worth every grueling minute of it!