As I type this I’m laying in my camping hammock at the side of scenic lake. There’s no one besides us around the lake. Totally secluded with the next campsites well over half a mile away. The sounds of the frogs and crickets surround In a wildly loud cacophony. There’s a cool breeze starting to blow in off the small lake just below Government Peak inside Porcupine Mountains State Park.
The hike here was interesting to say the least. Let’s get the tough part out of the way. According to the online resource I used our hike was only supposed to be 8.5 miles or so. By the time we got to our camp it was well over 10 miles. Throw in a crazy muddy trail and there were times when it was tough going. I’m laying here exhausted, with a leg bandaged up due to some type of poisonous plant, and feeling completely run down. It reminds dad me of the days when I’d have 15+ mile training runs. All that said, it was worth every single step, no question.
The hike today was all I could ever ask for out of a hike. Atop giant stone cliffs. Crossing tranquil rivers and streams. Entire swathes of woods covered in a vibrant emerald green. Waterfalls around many corners all with their own personalities and intricacies. Just to add to a view that didn’t seem like it could get any better – a bald eagle soared and played in the wind as looked across the scenic valley.
There are definitely some things about hiking and backpacking that aren’t cool on the surface. As I type there’s a hum of mosquitoes surrounding my bug screen frantically searching for a secret entrance. My body is sore. My leg is feeling pretty hot. There’s a lot there I could focus on… if I chose to in a negative light.
Here’s the deal, many of the best experiences in life are found on the other side of suffering. While it Is uncomfortable in the moment those are the times when we’re being tested, we’re being forged and tempered. At any time we could stop as it is all self imposed, but the suffering is what brings the more profound joy out of an experience.
Laying here tonight knowing I put in over 11miles with a 45ish pound pack on while taking on almost 2,000 feet of elevation gain has me feeling pretty proud of myself… and at the same time wondering how much further I could’ve gone. The suffering increase the joy, increases the appetite for future growth, and pushes us past what we felt is possible.
Today the suffering brought my views and memories which will burn in my brain for my entire life. I’ve seen more beauty than I’d otherwise see in nature. I found more joy in living. Today I’ve lived completely.