This spring, I wasn’t in tip-top shape. Even though I exercise 3x a week at the gym, I lacked stamina. So, when the trail dried out enough, Frank and I started hiking Dollar Mountain, a short walk from our home. I knew it would take conditioning to reach my ultimate goal: to reach the tower, about 3 miles round trip.
Now, a short walk sounds deceptively easy, but the walk TO the hill is one of the toughest parts. It resembles a ski slope in steepness.
So, I started small.
My first milestone: to walk uphill for 45 minutes.
That first day, I huffed and puffed along the way. I have trained my dog Bella to pull me up the hill, which helped. (No, that’s not cheating!) Frank’s encouragement made a difference, as well as my competitive spirit to keep up with him.
The next time we climbed, I wanted to make it farther, to the gravel pit. But time constraints (a morning appointment) kept me from getting there.
To me, the gravel pit represents the halfway point, even though it’s more than halfway. That’s where the grueling final steep climb starts, about half a mile of steep gravelly slope. It’s also where I see the best views of countryside.
The Second Milestone: Reach the gravel pit
Next time we climbed it, I managed to get to the gravel pit. A small celebration for reaching the second milestone.
Then I didn’t hike it again for over a week and lost my momentum.
Today started out different. I told myself I would make it to the top. I had a good night’s sleep, my legs were rested, and the temps were just right—in the 50’s-60’s. (OBSTACLES REMOVED)
Frank, Bella and I started out well, though he had to wait for me a bit, the first steep climb up TO the trail seemed easier. I made sure to keep up Bella’s training to pull me up the steepest parts, which is just enough of a pull to give me that ‘extra push’.
I enjoyed the view as I caught my breath at our traditional resting point, which is the steepest bit of trail, near the beginning of the climb. From then on, the uphill isn’t as steep until the very end.
So, the trail goes up and down a bit in the next part, with some nice vistas of our green wooded hills and lots of birdsong. We enjoyed a companionable silence. As we came around a bend, the tower we’re aiming for came into view. With encouragement from Frank, and a quick conversation with my best friend, I made it to the gravel pit. By then Frank and I were deep in conversation, and I almost didn’t realize it as we started up the steep gravel slope.
The Final Push to the top
As soon as I started to think how hard it is—right about the same time my glutes are burning, that’s when it starts to FEEL difficult. It’s amazing how the distraction of our conversation at the start of the gravel slope made the hill feel less difficult. I had Bella’s help on the final steep climb, though. Her little tug is just what I need to propel me to the top.
And YAY we are HERE! Touch the wire fence around the tower, because that makes it official (at least that’s what our kids tell us).
I bask in the morning, enjoy the view with my sweetheart, and gratitude fills me up. I did it!
Parallels in your climb to a goal:
- Tell me what ya want (goal)
- Get movin’
- Kick any obstacles in the hiney
- A little help from my friends
- Keep the tower in your sights
- Keep movin’ on up
- Reach the peak
- Give gratitude
Questions to think about:
What would have happened if Jenny made the goal to climb to the top the first day she hiked it? Setting an unrealistic goal will be discouraging if not attained.
What knowledge about myself is pertinent to planning how to reach the goal? This will be different for everyone. Ex: Jenny knows she will not push herself to the point of pain just to reach the top on the first day. She doesn’t like being sore for days afterward.
What obstacles do I face along the way, or perhaps even before I start?
Are there natural milestones on the way to my goal that I can use to mark my progress? A time, like a month, a distance, an accomplishment?
Who or what will motivate me along the way? Do I need encouragement, competition, a partner, etc.?
What assistance will I need to reach this goal? I had Frank encouraging me and Bella pulling me at times.
Do I have the knowledge or skill I need already? Or: What do I need to develop or learn to reach this goal?
Who do I know that has done something similar to what I am planning? Will I ask them to mentor me/ answer questions to help me along the ‘climb’?