As of late we have been trying to focus on making sure we are actively doing good things for our bodies. This has included hiking more! Now I love hiking. I love conquering the mountain and the challenge of the ascent, yet I have to admit for the first time ever these past 2 hikes really challenged me....mentally! You see, these mountains although, not overly treacherous during the spring and summer become so, due to melting snow and ice.... while they are steep and challenging....they are steep, challenging, dangerously icy and slick. Then add the fact that we are hiking in our regular hiking shoes without spikes..... yeah....maybe not the safest thing we have done.
Sooo get ready—it’s story time mixed with a lil bit of #mondaymotivation.
But first, let’s go back to the end of February during a sleet storm...I was rushing to get to the car and I fell HARD on the driveway. That black ice got me. All I could think about was not slipping to far down the hill as I juggled not spilling all my tea or braking my travel mug on the cement. Guys my neck still creeks and hurts almost 2 months later!
Now, imagine having flash backs of the above moment whilst climbing and hanging from rocks over steep ledges covered in ice with a 3,000 foot elevation. Let’s just say my heart starts to pound, my mind races and my body trembles at the thought of one move I think is steady only to find myself loosing grip and control due to the icy patches.
The real first part of this tale begins on Jared’s Birthday...Wednesday - March 3,2021. (Lol and here, you thought I already started the story....hehehe).
His ideal “Birthday” would be a great hike and some food....so of course Jenneka and I were like “Easy....done!” We rearranged our schedules to accommodate this glorious day. We told Jared to pick a hike (he chose Brace Mountian in Millerton, NY) and we made reservations for a 2pm lunch at our favorite spot!
We got a decent start to what Jared said was about a 4 mile hike and less than 3000 ft. elevation, the reviews said some spots would be steep...but we should be ok...
The day was clear and crisp and while I had my layers I wasn’t quite layered like on most of our hikes.
I usually prepare a bit mentally, in a sense of...expect the unexpected, be ready for anything, have fun, lay everything out the night before! (I also do this because we typically go hiking with a friend super early in the morning and hike for an average of 10 miles).... So this round I have to admit I was more along the lines of... “cool, less than 4 miles...easy peasy we got this!”
Oh how cute was I....😳
So, after we found the entrance (yes it is in an odd way, as the trails opening is right next to someone’s house!)
We started out....everything was snow covered and beautiful.
Although, I wasn’t feeling great that day...I was good enough and didn’t want to be the one to wreck Jared’s Birthday.
As we started the ascent within the first 5-10 mins we decided the marked trail was way too icy and treacherous to climb. With that we started blazing trails of our own...and let’s just say these trails up were quite vertical. Haha photos and videos didn’t even come close to doing it justice.
As Jared and Jenneka bravely scaled the icy terrain I started to become acutely aware of how dangerous this was becoming. As I would search for footing from slick paths to a clear rock my mind would flash back to that day where I slipped on the ice in the driveway...my heart started to pound and my vision became solely focused on the rock...trying to determine if it had any hidden ice enveloping it! My voice was shaky as my sibs asked how I was doing.... “good...fine” was my response. They in jest quoted “The Italian Job” and said “Fine....as in ‘freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional...’” Yup...that was the one! As much as I tried to hide it....oh this was all to evident. I felt as if I was having an internal meltdown...not wanting to admit it outwardly. Yet, on the verge of bursting into tears....angry at my fear, amazed at the fact my body was actually doing what I needed it to do as I gripped and scaled stones to make it up the path...battling the constant nag of thoughts... “what if my body just gives out at any moment?” (This fear stems from a very long battle with Lyme Disease, and having lyme flares, I would be fine then all of the sudden out of nowhere spots would consume my vision, my body would get shaky, I would get winded, my ears would pop....and this was only going up a flight of stairs...but...that story and journey is one for a later time.)
I kept reminding myself to stay focused on only the moment right in front of me! Don’t let your mind wander! Don’t look down at the tree tops that could possibly break your fall...I mean at least most of them didn’t look too sharp.🙄
As we finally reached the summit and the straight paths I was blazing the trail...eager to see that the climb had been worth it! The view was gorgeous! The company was better and the conversation of conquering the hill was one for the books.
Jenneka had forgotten her sunglasses so used her buff as a makeshift sun shield! Pretty clever and it did help!
Although, I was a bit of a downer and made the executive decision to leave the celebration part for when we were actually back at the truck. Haha
After some glorious snap shots we made our descent. As we walked down, thoughts of “ok...this may not be so bad...” began to take hold.
We stopped to explore a beautiful waterfall and then decided to stay on the marked trail down...which warned that things could get a bit treacherous....wear the right shoes/gear....aka spikes!
The first part...was ok...then we hit our first rough patch....as we gripped rocks to guide our feet on the extremely narrow icy path....I looked out over the trees and instantly panicked and tried to gather my thoughts quickly...not to all the things that could go wrong but rather all the small things I needed to do to get my body across this patch of ice and stone. Jenneka of course filmed as she truly has zero fear when it comes to hanging off a cliffs edge.
I honestly used to not mind heights so much...yet, during this hike it became abundantly clear....my fear of heights was becoming an issue! Again, it’s funny how in the pictures nothing looks steep at all! Hahah!
I again started feeling as if I wanted to cry! (Guys I hate crying...yet, as I’m getting older I find myself just letting it all out...but this was sooo not the time or place!) I re-focused...got through and no sooner had we scaled that obstacle, we were met with another. Jared slid down a steep section, using tree branches to lower himself down the ledge. Next, it was Jenneka’s turn...then I made my way down...and....it happened....I slipped...Quickly, I turned my body grabbing a tree trunk just in time! I used every ounce of arm strength to lift myself to a less slick spot then maneuvered down to where Jared and Jenneka were. I stood on the narrow path...then went to check the time on my phone....
STOP! I lost my phone!!!! “It’s fine...it’s fine...” insisted Jared and Jen... “we will just call it”of course I had the ringer off...but we would at least hear it vibrating...Ringing....and more ringing on Jenneka’s end....NOTHING! I broke...At this point I was and we were....cold, wet, starting to experience muscle fatigue (yeah we didn’t even bring water on this hike😬🙄😳). My mind raced... “I think my sibs have duplicates of many of our together client numbers” “I think I have client emails still?” “omg....all my pictures....and stuff I was editing....and....”
Jared broke my train of thought with the words... “I’m gonna go up and look for it!” Okay here is where I really started to cry...I was like “please don’t...it’s lost...it’s fine...the last thing I want is for my Brother to die on his birthday looking for my phone!” He laughed and said “it’s gonna be fine...I will just take my time...”
So back up he went...Jenneka and I propped ourselves against trees to keep us from sliding down the ledge. And we waited....and waited....and then I would start to think...and silently cry....and shiver...and cry. At this point I wanted my siblings to be angry with me...but they weren’t...ok maybe a little, but I wanted the more dramatic....like.... “you idiot we are not talking to you for a month kinda angry!” Through my whimper session...I remembered our 2pm lunch reservation....gasping to Jenneka that now we were certainly not going to make it...she slipped her phone from her pocket and called to cancel...guys can you believe...we actually had reception through all of this!!!! As the call finished and we tried to inch our way into sunny patches for warmth... Jenneka insistent that she found a better path for the rest of our descent inched her way down the precipice to explore a bit more. After what seemed like 40 days rather than 40 minutes....Jared yelled down... “are you sure it’s not in any of your pockets!” Relief swept over us but then I became instantly panicked because he still had to get down the steepest part!
I started crying....AGAIN....thinking “oh well now the phone is really gone and my brother better make it down.” We all gave one final look in our areas and then as Jared had crept down the steep slope... “ WAIT!!! OH MY GOSH THANK YOU JESUS...FOUND IT!” “What!? Are you serious it was less than 3 yards away!” It was tucked and sticking out from behind a tree! I honestly thought I had lost it during that scary slip....but from where we stood none of us could see or hear it! Even as Jared had gone back up the angles and sunlight were different. It was a miracle...right place right time...sun just perfectly shining through the trees to glisten off the phone case!
As I clung to the tree...Thanking God....all I could think of, was how that moment was like a crazy scene out of a movie! I shakily thanked bro! Haha...After, I wiped my tears ...and snot...yeah there was a lot of that.... we decided to take Jenneka’s trail....even though her past records for choosing “safe trails” hadn’t been great....this one could be her saving grace! At first it wasn’t...Jared almost lost his manhood between a tree as he just in time grabbed a low lying pine branch to save himself. I watched in horror as snow flew...Jared sat up cursed looked at Jen and said “You always pick the worst trails...this may not be a good idea after all.” Slight bickering ensued but we had no choice...we were on this path and the only way off this mountain was to keep moving...the option to stay in place....was NOT AN OPTION!
So onward we went...finally hitting some fun spots where we could just slide down like we were sledding! (Butt Sledding we called it.) Then we heard dogs barking and the path leveled....we were off the crazy train! Off the side of that hill...and now we could actually celebrate! That truck never looked so beautiful!
Here are a few takeaways from this Mountain trek....
Lesson 1 - Sometimes you need to change your vantage point. My phone stayed in the same spot where it fell out. Yet, from our original viewpoint we couldn’t see where it had slid behind a tree. Jared had to climb up and then back down again to see where it rested right in front of us!
Lesson 2 - Never under or over estimate your circumstances. In life, an unexpected twist is sure to happen usually more often than not. And this brings us to our 3rd lesson....
Lesson 3 - Stay present. Pretty sure one of our first Monday Motivation posts was about just this...and yet during moments of the hike I found myself thinking wayyyyy to far in advance... “how the heck are we going to get down if getting up is this difficult!?!?” “What if an ice chunk breaks off as I grab for it!?” The thoughts of uncertainty would at times get overwhelming...especially during moments where I would freeze up (literally and figuratively) just staying and hanging off an icy ledge. I had to keep focused on every inch that was in front of me and only navigate as I went along in every moment. So, I would take a breath and tell myself... “just live in this moment!”
That’s the story Fam! We hope these lessons and this story at least made you smile and we would love for you tune in to our YouTube channel for the Vlog from this hike...going live tomorrow! Stay tuned!
X ~ Janna & The Sibs