Conquering Life’s Mountains

Hiking to peak of a mountain. Every person in this world can relate. This may be physically and mentally engaging oneself in the motion to conquer one of earth’s land bubbles, or it could be picking oneself off of the ground to conquer one of life’s strenuous, uphill climbs. Mountains are part of life and no one can escape their steep slopes. However we can all get to that glorious peak. The peak is really what we’re all after; it is the ultimate goal. We all have that one special object, person, idea, event, that we long for and we climb for. Once we conquer the slopes, the rocks,  the sweat, blood, dirty hands, and scraped up knees, and we reach that peak where we finally get to bask in all of our hard work and glory; that is when we truly understand ourselves.

The first mountain I hiked was one of life’s fabulous uphill climbs. I was twelve years old and I held the hand of my father as he left this world. Cancer is the fastest uphill climber I had ever witnessed at that point in my life, and twelve year old me had no idea where I even was in my forest. I was lost. I couldn’t find the trail I had been on my entire life, and I couldn’t find anyone to lead me back to that trail. I wasn’t the only one standing lost in a forest, my whole family was lost in their own parts of the woods. My mom was just as lost as I was, so we were both alone, with not even each other. Of course, I was only twelve and grieving was not something that came naturally to me, I got over the death of my father moderately quickly at that time and I began carving my own trail. I went off the beaten path of what I was used to and hiked my way through school. I graduated in 2015 and ventured onto the University of Oregon where I decided to work toward a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. I wish I could say that the college life was the life for me and that I was a normal college kid, but alas, I hated college. Since I am still a nerdy little college kid, I guess “hated” should be present tense. School is just not my cup of tea, probably because I would rather be on a trail than studying for an exam… but that’s beside the point! Anyway, I transferred to Rogue Community College to complete my generals (for wayyy cheaper, might I add), and I am more into the smaller college. But ever since I began college and started this new chapter of my life, the unfinished grieving over the death of my dad made its unwelcome return. I couldn’t seem to get past the fact that my dad will never be able to watch me grow and graduate college and walk me down the aisle, or just be here for me in general. I was rolling down the slope of the mountain I was working so hard to climb and I couldn’t seem to stop myself. I knew I had to do something before I hit the rock bottom, so I decided to take on an actual mountain.

Nature is very powerful and healing, and I was done being beaten up and pushed around by my own self. Without a second thought, I threw all of my hiking gear into my small Osprey hiking pack, laced up my Ahnu hiking boots and threw my middle finger up at myself in the mirror because I was done with my old self. Okay, the last part didn’t actually happen but it makes me sound like I’m a badass, so we’ll pretend it did. I was on my way to hike Mount McLoughlin. This “little” mountain packs a big punch, let me tell you. But it is one the most rewarding hikes I have ever been on. It’s mysterious, beautiful, and cleansing for each soul that makes it to it’s amazing summit. However, it’s a hike for sure, and in some parts it is not easy. For me, once I made it to the lava rock switchbacks, I had to tell myself sweet little inspirations to keep going. Those things are worse than climbing a hundred flights of stairs. The stretch leading up to the summit is pure sand. So I would walk for five minutes and remain in the same spot, which was the best! But all of this hard work of climbing uphill didn’t mean one thing when I stepped foot on the peak of that mountain. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, and I was standing on the top of a freaking mountain! It is such an awesome, rewarding feeling to look around and know you’re standing on the top of world, practically. It’s almost unreal.

It was at this point, on the peak of this mountain, that I had a revelation. Life isn’t meant to be lived grieving. Life isn’t meant to be lived sad or mad or anything other than happy. Happy and excited about every single thing. Life is precious and we are only given a specific amount of time to fulfill ourselves in the moments, people, and things that we love, and to live our individual lives to the absolute fullest. I’m not saying never be sad, be sad. Be sad and be mad. Be pissed! Feel all of your feelings as deeply as they come, but don’t hang onto them. Feel them and then let them go. Let go of what makes you anything but the happiest you can possibly be. We are meant to be one with nature, and nature wants us to be happy and confide in her. Watch sunsets and get up early to watch the sunrise. Go on hikes, pull over every once in awhile to get out of your car, pause your hectic life, and just breath. Look at some flowers, hold a cute bug, find a cool rock, listen to a river, look out over the ocean. Nature wants us to be happy and feel loved. She wants us to love ourselves, and she wants to help us all achieve just this.

If you’re ever feeling lost and desperate, go into nature for just a minute and you will be healed just as much as you will let her heal you. We all have a wild side, stay in tune with it.

Happy hiking. Happy days.

Nettie Pitman



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