I have found that some of the most rewarding things in life appear the most absurd at first glance. While there are many examples in my life to explain this statement, I wish to share the following.
I have always tried to be a runner and enjoy it. I have always thought that my body build was that of a runner. I thought that if I had the right shoes I would be able to go for miles. I thought that if listened to the right music while running I would forget about the boredom I was experiencing. I ran road after road, neighborhood after neighborhood until I soon realized that the one thing that I love most about running was the end.
Oh, I am so glad when it is over. I love how it feels. I love how clearly I can breath. I love how healthy I feel. I confess that I am not an avid runner, but I have had enough finishes to know that I thoroughly love the accomplishment of the end of the paths that I choose.
I absolutely love the mountains, and I love to have them in such close proximity to my home. I escape to them often for solitude. This is where I came to discover the Z Back Trail. This is a trail that lies no more than a quarter mile behind my home. After discussing with a neighbor that I was trying to find trails in the mountains, he introduced me to this very “unique” trail. The trail has approximately 13 switchbacks up the face of the mountain and rises a few thousand feet in elevation before wrapping around the peak. I have included a photo from the base of the mountain below.
As he pointed this peak out I thought it absurd to even think about hiking that hill, let alone running to the summit. I thought it would take me hours and would most likely end in a search and rescue effort in my behalf. Despite my self criticisms I somehow talked myself into how incredible it would feel to have reached the top. I wondered what the view of the city would be like. I wondered what was behind the peak. Needless to say, I had planned a journey up the hill for the following Saturday morning.
I left before sunrise on my journey up the Z Back Trail with a pack full of water, my music and some running shoes. I had no idea what lied ahead on this beautiful morning. There wasn’t a soul in site and I loved it. I started up the hill and made it a couple switchbacks before having to verify that my lungs were even functioning. In addition to my respiratory malfunction, the trail was anything but pleasing to the eye. It was covered with sand, dry grass, rocks and sagebrush. I wanted to return and follow a trail close by that I was more familiar with, but again talked myself into what the end must look like.
The trail became steeper and the switchbacks longer. My water started getting low and so did my energy. The view however became majestic and absolutely breathtaking. The sun started to creep through the canyons and over the summit. The trail began to be surrounded by trees and wildflowers. Occasionally I would still pass through a segment of sagebrush and rocks, but they became fewer and far in between. It was at the point of exhaustion when I finally reached the summit. I have never been so grateful for the end of my run as I was that morning. It was grueling, ugly at times and a tad bit bloody, but I will do it over and over because that morning I had stumbled upon a paradise in the hills. I rounded the summit and discovered an Eden of sorts. I was alone in a field of wildflowers overlooking the valley and the mountains behind me. A deer sprang from the trees surrounding me. It could not have been any more picture perfect as the morning sun lit up the landscape in a perfect light. I fell to my knees in gratitude for the seclusion and the beauty that surrounded me. It was rejuvenating to say the least. And believe me, I needed rejuvenation, because I was about to embark on the journey back.
The story is long, but the lesson is short. There are many times in life when we will face certain “Z Back Trail’s”. The switchbacks are long and the landscape can be quite dull. I can guarantee we will stumble. I can guarantee we will be exhausted; we will stop and question why it is that we are doing what we are doing. I can assure you that as we press forward to the goals that we set, the sun will start to creep through the canyons and over the summits of our life. We will begin to experience the wildflowers and beautiful trees amidst the rocks and sagebrush. And at last when the summit is reached our goals will bring forth a paradise in our own lives. Our passions and opportunities will be combined with the hard work and labors of the journey to bring the light of the morning sun on our lives. We will see things as we never have, and we will want more. This feeling of reaching the end of one goal will catapult us to more and greater things.
So it was that morning with the Z Back trail and so it is with life. We must keep marching forward towards the summits of our own lives and soon we will find that they are much more rewarding than they appeared at first glance.