This is a picture of East Rock, one of the two bookend “mountains” in my city. Yesterday, my kids and I weakly conquered the hill.
We had the spontaneous idea to go up to the top as a way to get outside, breathe some fresh air, and enjoy nature. As we pulled into the parking lot, I threw out the idea that we park at the base and walk up to the top. My 3 were up for that, even though we didn’t have water or correct shoes (2 kids had flip flops on).
We started our journey just fine, enjoying each other, taking time to climb and look at various fall flowers. Getting to the top was no problem.
The draw to East Rock is not only the giant step you take away from the city and into nature, but also the spectacular views that are provided for you at the top. At any time of year, it provides visitors with a panoramic view of the city and the Atlantic ocean (or Long Island Sound). It is a great place to breathe deeply the sounds and smells of nature. It is also a great backdrop for some fun pictures.
Also, at the very summit of East Rock is the Soldiers and Sailors monument. It is dedicated to all residents who gave their lives in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. It stands 112′ and is topped with a giant Angel of Peace that overlooks the city.
The day was spectacular, the company was stellar, and the walk up was invigorating.
At the top, however, as we were getting ready to descend, one of my lovely children suggested that we take the stairs on the way down, instead of following the path by which we had ascended. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the “stairs” are really the Giant Steps Trail which descends from the summit at a near-vertical pitch from the south. Not only was it treacherous and physically challenging (remember that I’m 2 months out of a cast for a broken foot), but pretty dangerous with a small group of unprepared and inappropriately dressed trekkers.
Even though we were physically spent, we were able to still allow the beauty around us to fill deep places in our hearts, and we were still able to enjoy each other. We laughed a lot, stopped to take pictures, and be silly.
When we made it down, we were agast to find out that the Giant Steps Trail didn’t drop us near where we’d parked, but about a 30 minute walk – on a very narrow, busy street – away from where we’d parked! My little party was exhausted and thirsty, and yet we had a long walk ahead of us. I’m happy to report that we made it – dehydrated and feet-sore, but we made it.
I have been working out for the past month at a health club, or I probably wouldn’t even have suggested the walk up to the summit. But I can tell you, I am FEELING it today. Lots of muscles were used that aren’t engaged in my typical workouts. But, there is also a great sense of accomplishment at having seen a mountain, conquered it, having taken the more uncharted path, and survived.
This experience brings my mind to the obvious parallel of the mountains am I facing in my emotional/physical/spiritual life. What are the tactics I use to conquer them? Do I drive up to the top just to see the beautiful view (as most people do), or do I exert great amounts of energy to allow the journey to the top to touch me? And once there, am I content with taking the exact same path down, or do I face head-on a few more obstacles to achieve greater amounts of growth?
I hope that today we can all see our mountains for what they are, and can stretch ourselves to think up new and uncharted ways for conquering them.