Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What goes up must come down

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
I'll give a little bit of my love for you
Now's the time that we need to share
So find yourself, we're on our way back home


Before I begin part two of my Saddle trip I need to take some time to talk about my hiking partners. I really had the heart and soul of Fitness Ridge with me on this hike. Paige is the fitness director. She often has to play the bad cop at the Ridge which is really against her nature. She has a heart ten times the size of her body. She has made the program at the ridge what it is today. She took the groundwork that had been laid and put her spin on it. From the hikes to the classes every aspect of the ridge is better because of her. I love her to death.

Renee is the head of the Ridge marketing department. She doesn't have a ton of interaction with the guests on a daily basis, but each of them owe her for making this program accessible and visible to them. She works to bring contestants from the show to the ridge, had done so much to put this program in the national spotlight, and even got a shy boy from Wisconsin to confess many life sins on national TV to help others learn about the power of this program. I am so happy that she and I have become such good friends
Trevor is the head of the reservations department. The first interaction most everyone has with the ridge is with his department. He solves problems, makes the guests laugh, and smile with his calorie challenge, and has increased the professionalism of his office beyond what I ever imagined after my first trip here. He has become a dear friend of mine.
The last member of the Ridge staff to join us on the hike was Eric. As the general manager of this place his hours are long, his duties endless, and his demands encompassing. He is all of these peoples boss and the jobs they do is a complete reflection of the leadership he provides. I can't imagine this place without him and truly hope the owners appreciate all he does to make their resort all that it is. He is one of my best friends in the world and I treasure any time we spend together. If it wasn't for Eric my first trip here may very well have been my last. I could never thank him enough for all he has done for me and every camper that walks through the door here.

The last of our group wasn't a ridge member, but another guest. My dear friend Lisa, has been so successful in the year I have known her. She pushes me to to go harder and faster on the treadmill. She has the ability to make those around her feel better about themselves. She is selfless to an extreme and has raised three wonderful, intelligent and beautiful girls. She has done 3 triathlons in the last year and has signed up for 4 races in the next 6 weeks. She is a shining example of everything that is great about the ridge. And I only cussed her a few times for inspiring me to do this hike :)
I was really happy when I got to the top. It was challenging beyond what I had thought it would be. But I was unprepared for the downhill. I like to climb, I hate to come down. Momentum is a funny thing. It's great when you are playing a sport, it really sucks when you are travelling down a steep decline. I have done enough downhill to be anywhere near comfortable doing it. I'm afraid I will lose control of my momentum and just keep heading out of control. And one thing you don't want to be on a mountain with drop offs is out of control. So I went slow, I mean really slow. I imagine it takes most people 15 minutes to do the down part of the original hill. It took me 3 times that long. I got shaky once, slipped one other time but I made it thankfully down in one piece.

So after making it down on to relatively flat ground we began the trek out of the canyon. I was spent and Paige didn't sugarcoat it for me. She said I'm not going to lie we still have a long way to go. It was basically like I was starting an entire new hike after spending two plus hours going up and down. I will say that what I had seen so far was beautiful. Recent rains and snow melts had left many pools of water. There were small strange bugs in all the water. Speaking of water I was well through my water, through most of Lisa's water and starting in on Trevor's water. My normal hiking water allotment was about 25% of what I needed on this hike. I no longer had any feeling of accomplishment. I had one feeling coursing through my body and that was simply. Please let this end soon. I felt bad that I had slowed everyone else down. I was slightly embarrassed that saddle was kicking my ass. But as I looked towards my friends I only felt compassion and support and encouragement. I kept going.

Just over 3 hours in we came to the back part of Fern Gully. I have never hiked Fern Gully but I have sure heard other campers bitch about this hike and they all say one word....SAND. This was now deep sand we were walking though and we had over a mile of it in front of us. I like the beach, we all know I like the sand in my toes when playing volleyball. I didn't love this sand in any way. I was starting to feel those same feelings that I have seen bring the tears out in many newbies. Sort of what was I doing thinking I could do this. But we kept going and suddenly the sand was ending and we were heading into territory I was familiar with. I remember the feeling I had doing the triathlon when I knew for the first time I was going to finish it. I knew for the first time since I started climbing that I was going to make it back to the cars. We hiked out the hidden pinyon trail that I had hiked many times before. We found ourselves finally on the stop sign path and only a quarter mile from home. Relief. The first thing I saw was a lady I had never seen before wearing a biggest loser hat. So after 4+ hours of hiking so much sweat, self doubt and loathing, the first words I hear are, "I know you, I read your blog" And there you have it, I sometimes forget that what I do has an impact on others and I am reminded of that as I finish the hardest thing I have ever done.

I was asked what I felt by my hikers and at that moment the word that came to mind was humbled. Humbled that this mountain reminded me that I have so far to go, humbled that I could do this, humbled that I have amazing, patient friends that shared this with me, and humbled that I continue to receive the gift of love that Fitness Ridge has been for me. There wasn't a sense of accomplishment as I headed home, there was a sense of relief. But as the days have gotten away from the actual hike I do feel a sense of accomplishment. That was one bad-ass hike, and I did it. I don't have any plans to do it again anytime soon, but you better believe I have plans to find a new challenge. I hope you enjoyed the story of Saddle. I only have a few days left in Utah and I am content that this trip has been my best ever for so many reasons. To my hiking partners... a gigantic thank you and so much love. You have changed me and I appreciate it more than I can say. Peace, love and amazing friends, Jim

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