When I was 18 I moved away from home for the first time. I didn't just move out of the house, I moved 2,500 miles away! Was I sad? Did I cry? Yes. Yes. But it was the start of an adventure I didn't even know I wanted back then. I drove out with my friend Melanie in my 1993 Hyundai hatchback
Note: this is a googled image, not my actual car...but pretty darn close.
My sister and her boyfriend lead the way in her Ford Escape.
Interjection here: Unbeknownst to me at the time, 18 year old people aren't running on all cylinders, that is to say, our decision making and life preserving skills are not completely developed at 18-years old...that being said - don't judge me for stupid choices...and don't tell my mom.
Okay...so again, I drove out to Utah in that car! It's a miracle it made it, and at a few points (especially Southern Utah) I felt like the car was going to die! It had never been to the mountains before and had no clue what this elevation junk was all about. But it survived and so did we.
I was in Provo for under 48 hours when I was invited to go hiking at 2:00 in the morning...with strangers. They were cute, and there was another girl going (who had apparently also just met them), and one of their friends was coming as well, a grand total of 5. I couldn't talk Melanie into it...she was a little older, maybe her survival instincts had kicked in and she realized that I was embarking on the stupidest adventure ever...she didn't stop me though...and seeing as I am here blogging about it, that's okay-this time.
So we leave super early in the morning, which still feels later to me because my body is running two hours ahead. We drive up to Mount Timpanogos (referred to as 'the mountain' from now on). I think it is only fair to tell you that the reason we were hiking this mountain so early in the morning was to get to the top in time to see the sunrise...there, that should justify my stupidity.
*Said in creepy story teller voice* Now our story really begins. It's a tale of darkness and shadows, adversity, adventures, threatening beasts that lay in wait to destroy and finally triumph.
Before we began to hike up the mountain there was official business that had to be taken care of. It was still dark out, but we found the latrine/outhouse/whatever and took our turns. Having an already overdue water bill I not so patiently waited my turn. It was a rather spacious latrine thing and once inside I found my way to the other side and told myself I needed to go before we started the hike. One problem, I had seen an episode of X-files once where there was an alien or monster living in a porta potty, it would attack people who sat on it and insert it's spawn into them...uh...no thank you. (note: so here we see that I will go to the mountains with strangers without a second thought, but the moment I am faced with a fictitious monster from X-Files I grow timid...) Seeing as how there could be a monster in there and that even if I did have a flashlight I wouldn't be brave enough to look inside, I forewent the privilege of using the restroom before beginning the hike, and then proceeded to complain about it as we started out.
The boys said that I could use the woods but I didn't see how that was any better so I just made myself ignore it. We hiked and hiked and hiked for hours in the dark. At one point we came to a valley and we made our way across it and then we hiked some more. I saw snow, in July...that was very exciting to me because being from Virginia I was lucky if I saw snow in the winter, much less July.
I had to keep stopping though, I was physically tired and drained. I had just driven 2,500 miles across the country in three days, I wasn't used to the elevation, and I certainly wasn't used to the time change. I hadn't slept in almost 24 hours. At one point I sat on a rock (we all did) but when the group was ready to go I told them to leave me there and get me on the way back. They assured me it wasn't much further, but I wouldn't budge...I was dying. So they left me. Had I been older and wiser I would have seen another dumb decision being made, but as it was, I was just grateful to be left alone panting and holding my cramping sides.
I got bored though, not even ten minutes later, I couldn't bear the thought of just sitting there on that rock, waiting for them to come back. The strangest thing happened, I heard the words of my early morning Seminary teacher, the theme my senior year of high school was, "You can do hard things." I looked up towards the top of the mountain, it didn't feel all that close, but I realized I would always regret coming this far and not finishing the journey. So I got up, swung my little Jansport backpack over my shoulders, and followed after my group. Luckily the sun was coming up, and there was a trail, because I'm no tracker.
I had barely gotten back into the hike when I came up to a switchback in the trail that was blocked by Mountain Goats (I mentioned in the last post that there was bad blood between us). I want to point out that at this point in my life I had been around dogs and cats...some wild birds, squirrels (before I knew I hated them), an occasional bunny in my parents yard. I didn't know the protocol with Mountain Goats, their horns looked like good enough weapons, and their beady eyes threatened me as I stared up at them. "You can do hard things" I told myself, but being impaled by a goat didn't seem to land on that list. So I contemplated just crawling up the hill where the trail ended up going anyway. I tried, slid down, tried again...nothing, all the while the goats stared at me. I stood there for a moment, contemplating my fate and then I got angry. These goats were not going to stop me. I moved forward with determination and gusto. Then I timidly passed the goats hoping they didn't really notice me there.
Once passed them I continued on my journey, hoping that at each turn I would be reunited with my group. Finally, I reached the top. It was BEAUTIFUL! My group was so happy that I had decided to finish the hike. I looked out over the scene, I snapped a few pictures, got one taken with me at the top (I will try to find these pictures and post them) and I thought of that theme, "You can do hard things." In conjunction I feel the need to throw out an undeclared theme of my life, "You can do stupid things and still live to tell about them, but don't press your luck."
*Note to reader, I practically ran all the way down, straight into the latrine and used it with the blessed sunlight comforting my paranoia.