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Lessons Learned on a Mountain Peak

four loops pass aspen colorado white national forest camping hiking trail

On the dawning days of this past August, I and a couple of friends spent three days and two nights scaling up and down hiking trails in the Centennial state. Besides breath taking views and muscle cramps, I took home three lessons; I doubt will be forgotten anytime soon. Read on and see if any of the pictures make you feel like tackling the trails of White River National Forest next year!

Smile, because things can always be worse

I’ve had my fair share of pain-masking smiles through the years in the Marine Corps. However, I cannot recall any one of those situations that were that high up in elevation. Although the air is cleanly refreshing, it is also much thinner. I got my first real taste of thin air on those days. It wasn’t so bad, but hauling a 60lb pack uphill, proved that it indeed marked itself as a friction factor for our hike. I also have minor asthma problems, and not having an inhaler slightly creeped me out. But hey, you had to smile. The views were just too good not to. You were literally surrounded by all of which shall be admired and awed. It is freezing cold, and you may be numb at the hands, but you know it can always get worse. At least it isn’t hailing. At least there isn’t a rockslide coming down on us. At least I have plenty of clean water to drink. I don’t remember how many times I repeated the same phrase, ‘at least’ followed by a dire possible situation. You would be surprised at how many you could come up with. So, smile.

mountain views of hikers on rocky trails spring weather packs and sleeping mats

Keep Moving…or Die

This was the first time in life that I felt completely exposed to the real natural world, despite the abundance field time I got in the Marine Corps. This time I truly felt there was no safety net, being as high as 11,795 ft in elevation. We couldn’t just ‘drop pack’ or decide that we can sit down and rest for the day. This was the one time I knew that not continuing to move would prove fatal. Stopping consistently encouraged my shaking legs to cramp, and so I didn’t d

esire it as one usually would. What satisfied me more was getting closer to a declining trail.

However, to get there we had to simply keep moving. And so, we did…

snowy montain peaks and trails with hiker in blizzard weather proofed under cold weather conditions

Never Underestimate Confidence

I hope to write more about the power of confidence in future blog posts, but for this entry I want to illustrate an example of confidence at work. You would assume that the trail we were on, Four Loops Pass, to be the single most influential factor for how difficult the hike would be. In the other hand, you could assume it was our acquired hiking experience. However, what really determined the difficulty was our presented mindset. Embracing a positive and confident mindset pushes your physical limits because your physical limits are majorly influenced by your mental state. Instead of thinking to myself, “I have never been this high in elevation before”, I would replace it with, “I have never let a hiking trail beat me.” Both were absolute facts. The one I spent time focusing on is the one that determined our success of the trip.

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