Thursday, August 25, 2016

"A Different Height..."

In early Fall, a few seasons back, on another solo traverse of Mt Edith's three summits, I was on my way out late in the day. It was then I was to enjoy a unique experience when meeting two other mountaineers. They seemed very tired, yet very content. They were moving quite slowly and also in a quiet manner.
We were to share the next few hours on the trail together; talking when it felt right; passing snacks back and forth; each of us reflecting upon our own adventure experiences just passed. I sensed that theirs had been a much greater challenge than mine that summit day.
They stopped and looked back on occasion; I believe it was to catch the last glimpses of the mountain which had just tested them. Finally, I asked, "Was it Mt Louis", and then they just smiled.
Great big, full, meaningful, tired smiles that told the rest of their story as few words can...
"I know...", I said, as I had touched the stone of Mt Louis some years ago.
And I did 'know' as Louis is a distinct wild place, so memorable for any adventurer who has chosen to embrace the rock there.
They shared a bit more about the route taken, the exposure, that so small summit, and the challenging descent. What they mused more about though was what I leaned forward to more closely listen to.
Their day had started with the energy and ego and confidence we all display at times out there - things that can carry us forward and through the trials, yet can also be occasionally, paradoxically limiting at the same time.
Their day had ended on a different height... 
While clearly enjoying their accomplishment, the tone of their voices changed and the substance of their words did too, as they shared further.
There was no pretense at all, only a more modest account that mirrored an experience of being humbled.
A part of them had moved past any ego or bravado, now too there was a deeper respect for the mountain, for the ones who first bravely ascended that route; also a shared feeling of companionship with all others who have gone up that so distinctly vertical rock face.
There is a secret strength to be found in being humbled in our adventures.
When paired with our success and the confidence our elusive wild place objectives allow us to create, such earned humbleness gives us clearer perspectives; even allows more connectedness, and like certain precious metals, we go through a higher level of tempering.
What remains is significantly more enduring.
These two quiet climbers had indeed attained their adventure summit that day, yet what they found out there had impacted them more deeply and was worth so much more.....  DSD

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