Often people joke about life, hiking and long trips being about the journey and not the destination. Usually the comment is made when the destination does not hit the spot. Maybe the town you thought would be thriving was a dive and there was nothing there but a run down motel that you had booked from online, or maybe it’s your life. Every destination has not been what you would have picked. Instead, you try and “convince” yourself, the journey and the growth that comes from those destinations make it all worth it. Well if you think this blog will contradict that, you better stop reading now.
This past weekend, I decided that I wanted to summit The Brothers. This beast is 6866 ft high and is a 16-18 mile hike (depending on what website/flyer you look at). I was enthusiastic. It had been an accomplishment I was itching to check off my list. Last summer, I set out to hike it and while I spent at least one day a week up in the mountains, I ran out of good weather and The Brothers was never summited. So this year, after I ran my first half marathon, I told myself, “you’ve got to get up there.”
After convincing my dad… Don’t judge, every girl needs a hiking buddy. We loaded our packs and began the hike. The Brother is essentially a three-phase hike. You’ve got the beginning, Lena Lake portion. Which is a beautiful and popular trail. Then the next phase is the valley of the silent men. Its a quite and beautiful valley(ish) trail that winds beside the river. Once you reach base camp, you begin the last phase which is the straight up portion. Each phase ranges from 1.5-3.8miles and is worth it!
After hiking almost 7miles (one way) to the base camp, the sun quickly began disappearing as the clouds began packing in. My dad looked at me. Both of us in amazement. The plan was to summit in one day and the day was young. We had rushed through the first two phases and the weather was not supposed to turn bad until the next day. “Should we set up camp now?” I hesitated and watched as the summit above me became solid clouds. “Yes.”
Almost seconds after we had found a spot by the river, cleared it of any uncomfortable rocks, set up the tent, inflated our mattresses and rolled our packs out, the rain began. With not much to do, we deiced to jetboil some soup for lunch and then took a nap while in food coma. When I woke at 4pm it was still raining and much harder. I rolled back over until 5 ish and while the rain got harder, the tent began leaking. Every seam meant a fountain of water. Soon our sleeping bags were soaked. Both of us instantly feared the worse. What if it rained all night?
At 5:30pm, I rolled back over to face my dad. It was still raining and he was passing the time by sitting there with his reading glasses on, reading his bible. I began laughing hysterically. I had known his pack was heavy but now visible saw why. He had packed his whole room…
As I listened to the rain, I knew what had to be said…”Dad, I would not be offended if you want to go back.” He laughed and looked at me. “Really?” I could feel his excitement. He jumped out to look at the clouds. The rain was stopping but we could see new clouds rolling in. “Hurry, lets get out of here.”
We quickly packed up and began our decent down the mountain. As the sun was setting, we began tripping over our own feet, the rocks and logs . We started working as a team, calling out major rocks, times you’d need to step down and times you’d need to step up. It was seriously one of the best team building experiences. By 3 miles in, it was pitch black. We threw on our headlamps and began talking louder as I began getting freaked out by the animals. At one point we stopped for something and we could hear the thumping of an animal nearby. I was FREAKED out. Lets say I was not only praying but reciting verses “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…..”and so on.
When we reached the last switchback on the trail, I was beaming. We had made it. Nothing was stopping me from jumping in the truck that was waiting for me. Now in the moment, I was sore and could not help but think, did I really just hike 14 miles with a 40 pound pack on for no reason?
However, when I woke up the next morning and in my own bed, may I remind you. The wind, rain and cold air was affirmation we had made the right choice. My dad called me laughing, “looks like we made a good decision” and I agreed as I looked up the weather in the mountain and saw it was freezing, raining and very windy.
In the end, the trip was amazing and I wouldn’t have changed it. I can’t wait to crush it next summer, in the sun and with the warmth on my back. This failed attempt, has only made my desire to conquer The Brother greater. Yesterday (when I attempted to summit) was my first time I’ve ever turned around on a hike and while it wasn’t my first choice ( it’s never fun to quit) it was a good choice. The Brothers is a tricky summit with tons of loose rocks and you need your vision.
Overall, my dad and I had a growing experience, built amazing memories and I got the exercise and Instagram photos I desired. All in all, the journey though different than the destination was just as much fun. So my challenge to you is to find joy in everything. Whether its the journey or the destination, there is gonna be amazing things that come from both. Embrace life, push your limits and grow.
With love and laughter,