These days it seems I spend more of my time browbeating myself for all I'm not doing right, instead of celebrating the good things. I chose these photos because they invoke good feeling about myself as a person on so many different levels.
My youngest and I decided we would attempt to get in a few mother/daughter hikes this summer, while she is home from college. This is big due to the fact that until recently, whenever we would attempt to hike any distance I would be huffing and puffing and we'd turn around, usually within 10-15 minutes. Over the course of the last couple years, I've managed to lose some of the excess weight I've packed around for the last decade or so, and begun a regular exercise program. This summer I felt I would be able to hike again, something I relished when I was younger and BC (before children).
We heard about a trail in the Mt. Hood area called Ramona Falls and after a bit of research decided this was on our "For Sure" list. About three weeks ago we made the drive, stopping at ZigZag Ranger Station for what we hoped would be an accurate trail map and a chat with them about the trail, which was actually a 7.2 mile loop, with an elevation of 1,100 feet. As the rangers didn't look at me and exclaim that I looked like I was too old or too fat, (a genuine fear of mine) we thanked them and drove to the trailhead.
We had the ten essentials in our backpack, with several frozen bottles of water included. We were ready for my first serious hike of any elevation since the 1970's!
Somehow we missed the "loop" part of the trail that we planned to take, which would have given a different view and was unprotected from the hot sun on the way up, and ended up going up and back on the same trail that meandered along Ramona Creek. It was take-your-breath-away stunning much of the way and photos barely do it justice. Still, we stopped repeatedly to snap photos of the mini falls along this creek.
I was pleased that although I found it challenging to climb what others consider "gentle" slopes, I only came to a complete stop a few times to catch my breath. My daughter was a perfect hiking companion, as she kept to a pace that was doable for her mom, and fortunately is a shutter bug, so there were many photo ops which were appreciated for more than just the beauty of our surroundings!
After about three hours of hiking, we arrived at Ramona Falls and it was everything the books and websites said it would be. We eagerly devoured our PB & J sandwiches and rested briefly before heading back the way we had come. While it was almost cool at the falls, we knew it was above 90 and decided to hike back the way we came to keep out of the hot sun.
In the end, it took us about six hours to hike what the books said should be 3.5, and even taking into consideration the multiple photo stops, I don't think I could have done it in less than 4.5, as I'm still packing a good 50 pounds of excess weight more than I would like. Still, it was exhilarating to complete the hike, and spend time with my daughter.
I loved the fact that I could hike over seven miles and live to tell the story! The day was a highlight of the summer for me, and a taste of even better things to come. The struggle with weight is overwhelmingly so much a part of my life that I hang onto these moments of "flying into the light" with a death grip. Somehow, some way, I dream of flying away from the burden of the weight that keeps me on the ground. Perhaps I will become "that fat hiker gal" that despite the weight, embraces the challenges of elevation in order to seek the beauty that feeds my soul. Because the beauty of backcountry and all nature truly does feed my soul, and makes me glad to be alive. Tomorrow, another mother/daughter hike, another opportunity to seek the light.