For a woman who swam on two competitive swim teams for over a decade, I am dismayed to learn I have sports induced asthma. I do not remember a time ever having trouble with it. I vaguely remember being diagnosed with light asthma when being checked for allergies, but it was such a side note that I never really thought about it. As a woman who is active; though, if I was really honest hasn't done much in the way of exercise in awhile. It disappoints me to no end.
I took off of my first hike ever by myself. Alone. In the wilderness. Just me, the cicadas, my backpack and the trail. Oh and the occasional lizard. Ew.
At first it was exhilarating and refreshing to be traipsing out into the wildness on my own. No rules. No one to tell me where to go or what to do. It was all mine. Minus the occasional passerby, I was alone with the wind whistling through the trees. After about fifteen minutes of huffing and puffing, I realized that I heard no one else, but my own boots hitting the trail. And then I freaked out a bit. I was completely alone. I stopped and looked around. The beauty is unbelievable. That nature can be so alive and here I am twenty minutes away all the time living my life, completely unaware. Not a soul in sight.
That I could see. That is when it hit me. I am completely alone in the wilderness with no one to help me should I need it. ACK! Talk about a scare. I turned, put my head down and hustled it out of there. But I wasn't giving up, no I was going to try and finish this trail. If it killed me. Hopefully, no one was waiting to do so. Seriously, could I have been given the gene my sister got who is not afraid of anything? Instead of the gene that screams horror movie around every turn?!
One of the girls at work once commented that she "would not peg me for an outdoors-y kind of girl." Yep, I imagine I don't peg myself that way too. I wouldn't say I am fussy, but I do like the finer things in life. I like to shower, relax, wear dresses. I don't really do makeup, but man going camping or fishing. Awesome!!
I continued pushing myself through the trail listening to my breathing, which was a bit more heavily than I would have liked, and the sound of my feet hitting the sandy trail. It was comforting and rhythmic. It added to the allure of it all. I could have put on music, but I didn't want to spoil the reality of it all. Occasionally, the cicadas would become overly loud and overpower the sound of my breathing in which I would stop and look around. I couldn't see them, but it made me chuckle thinking of my first camping trip with my boyfriend. The man who is not put off by anything was a bit miffed at the cicadas. (I'll leave it at that)
I kept going, up and up and up. Wondering how long I had been walking. Wondering if I had reached the halfway point and maybe there wasn't a marker. Maybe I had led myself off the trail completely. It was a trail among many others; intersecting and intertwining. Just as I felt I might second guess myself and turn back, I would run in to someone; a couple, a single gal like myself, a man running (yes, running - dick head), an older gentleman with poles. Each person equally nice and friendly.
Every once in awhile I would stop and take a few pictures of something I felt touched me deeply. At one point, I even stopped and sat on a large rock. I arched my chest out like they teach us in yoga to open up the inner heart to hopefully help my breathing. I had reached the point where I was considering using the inhaler again. Why does it feel so defeating to use it more than at the beginning of a workout? Instead, I took a few long drinks of water and then regulated my breathing. I chose to continue on the trail and hope my breathing would level itself out. I wasn't at the point where I truly needed the inhaler. I could do this.
This past week we have been reflecting on our inner guru in yoga classes. As we breath, we are to look inside and seek out our inner guru, the voice that speaks to us when we are tired, overworked, distracted, etc. My inner guru is my father. I think he always has been. He is the one who pushes me harder, makes me grit my teeth and push farther and to smile and congratulate myself when I finish (the ultimate Rocky jogging and punches). He has always spoke to me about looking up to God, listening to Him and allowing Him to guide me. We are not really religious, but my father has always spoken to me about never being alone because "if God be for me, who can be against me." It is not a question, but a statement.
I look up only to realize the scenery has started changing. I went from sandy rocks to green grass and large thick trees. The sun has gone behind the mountain and the trees are even louder with cicadas. The shade cools my sweaty back and I reach my hands over my head to stretch out the weariness of my shoulders. That is where I hold tension and anxiety. When I breath with difficulty, it is also where I feel the pain because getting air into my tummy is harder. The shade releases some pressure of the need to push so hard. I put my hands on my head and walk with my chest open and breath deeply using the 2, 2 method that runners use.
I look around and miss my family immensely. If only they could be here, to see this with me. As much as I love this journey I am on, I am so sorry to have left them to experience it. I know in my heart that they are happy for me, but to find my worlds so far apart makes it harder to love it all the time. I remember when we used to go camping as a family. Pitching the tents, letting the dogs run lose, getting up at the crack of dawn to fish, making breakfast over the fire. Good times before life set in. When all was peaceful and the world was our oyster.
I find myself rooting through enormous boulders, climbing over large flat rocks with spaced between too small to accommodate my hiking boots. It is a pleasant change in scenery, but it keeps going steadily up and up. Rocks to climb over, rocks to climb under like a version of boot camp. I find myself jogging a bit through it all. Though I do stop to take a few pictures of the wonderful rock formations.
As I get around the rocks, it opens up and I am finally at the peak of the hike. Surrounded by trees, grass, but I can see the city just over the tips of the leaves. It is stunning. I can see the redness of the clay and dirt on the mountain facing me. The breeze blows coolness on my neck and shoulders. A gentle reprieve for the arduous hike up. I long to stay and enjoy it, but I know my time is limited. The sun is setting and I do not want to be caught up here in the dark. Talk about facing some demons then!
The faster it descends, the faster my feet want to hop and skip over the rocks. I am exhilarated to know I am on the other side. I did it. I have made my very first hike by myself. I have to be careful though as hoping through the rocks can turn my ankle if I am not more careful. I slow down a bit to drink more water. Seriously, what did we do before Camelbacks?
As I joyfully jog down the final stretch, I see the cars sprinting by on the freeway. I have made it!! I did it! I cannot believe how wonderful it feels to know I just made a split decision to do this and I did it. I am so proud of myself.
Ashma = 0
Me = 1
(major Rocky fist pumping)