Each morning I’m home, I follow the same ritual. I clean the coffee maker, grind the beans, fill the water reservoir, and press BREW. I reach into the cabinet to choose from double stacked memories, from coffee mug mementos that remind me of events, experiences, and eras of my life.
Aside from photos, I don’t keep many physical reminders of my past, but the coffee mugs are an ever-present exception. I wake up my brain and fuel my morning from these vessels, sipping from the emotions and lessons they still hold.
The pain was excruciating.
It felt like someone was grabbing a muscle in the middle of my back.
Then squeezing it.
Then twisting it.
Then stabbing it.
Over and over again.
From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. This story takes place on Thursday, July 27, Trail Day 11.
We came to a sudden halt just a few miles from the end of our trek. Why were we stopping?
I was sixth in line, a couple of hundred feet from my son who was in the lead. We’d assumed lightning spacing a mile or so before, remembering the ranger’s advice if we got caught in the middle of one of Philmont’s daily thunderstorms.
“Keep at least 50 feet apart on the trail, so that if one of you gets hit by lightning, it doesn’t jump from one person to the other.”
The sky rumbled and my annoyance grew in concert with the intensity of the rain. We didn’t have time for a break if we were going to beat the storm back to base camp. My son turned to look up the line as I walked toward him, and my frustration became concern as I got close enough to see the fear in his face.
From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. These wildflower images are from along the trail.
I love hiking. There’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than being outdoors and connected to nature. This weekend was different. Hiking with a fully loaded pack is a completely different beast, one that threatens to tear the enjoyment out of the experience. For much of the hike, we were silent except for our labored breath, focused on the next step. When one ravine ascent was followed by yet another, I felt every bit the 45-year-old guy who on most days is just a few clicks over sedentary. My calves felt ready to explode, my hips and shoulders ached. The kid’s face held the expression of what we were both feeling. Pain. I stopped and looked at him and said, “You know what gutting through the burn feels like. It’s just like running the 400. You just have to convince yourself you can.”
We can do hard things.
For the past several years, I’ve used Easter weekend to get out into nature and feel the emerging Spring fill me with new life. Yesterday in the middle of a six mile hike through Forest Glen, I knelt down beside a small creek, closed my eyes, bowed my head, and just listened to the forest.