“It’s almost eight miles, Kat,” he says. The morning is chilly, but the sky is a deep blue, too blue to be atmosphere and must be instead something tangible, touchable, bending in at the pressure of my hands as I press. Around the corner, I hear the creek rushing. I shoulder my pack and say, “Let’s do it.” The trail lollipops through the woods—meaning, we start out and end on the “handle” of the lollipop, and make our way around the outside of the “sucker” part.
We follow the creek a while, then begin the incline. I munch nuts and fruit, and drink the water I’ve brought. It’s silent save for our breaths. At the end of the steepest climb, my right leg begins to complain; I ignore it, move on. We round the top of the lollipop and make our way down. The decline is easier, but the terrain is rougher—the trail narrows, we step over slippery rock, climb over a giant fallen limb from a tree that looks a thousand years old. The pain in my right leg is expanding across my lower back and to my left leg; I ignore it. We come to an ancient tree that reaches forever into the sky, its trunk as wide as
and there’s a hollowed out space that I slip into. I stand inside its walls,
and make up a story about a woman who hides in a tree so no one can find her,
until she wants them to. I reluctantly step out of my sanctuary. Texas
We come to a sign that reads: .8 miles to the trailhead. It’s been hours and we’re hungry for the wine and cheese we packed. But the pain screams loud now. I hold my head high, pretending, so no one would know I’m hurting this bad. But, by time we are to the trailhead, I can no longer hide it; I’m limping, and my lips are pulled in a grimace. It’s another “lil’ piece” before we make it to the bridge that leads back to our car, and by then my limp is much more pronounced, my lips pressed, my teeth gritted. But I don’t care; I’m exhilarated. I hiked the entire lollipop, and it was sweet! Once in the car, my grimace turned to a grin, I say, “When can we do it again?”
Sometimes we just have to push through the pain to be where we want to go. Sometimes the painful struggle is worth it if we appreciate what else is going on around us--if we see what we long to see and do what we long to do and be who we long to be. Sometimes there is just pain and that’s just how it is but there’s much more to the experience so that the pain doesn't completely define us, but as well, the journey to where we want to be.