The man in his mid-thirties stared at the sign at the bottom of the mountain.
“Vernal Falls 0.8”
He thought to himself, “Less than a mile to the view? I could totally do this.”
He watched his wife and daughter walk ahead of him hand-in-hand and followed behind. On the outside he looked calm, but his head and heart were racing 100 miles an hour. He was not a hiker. Not because he didn’t like it, but because his health was a problem. He was an asthmatic, allergic to everything, and out of shape.
He watched as his daughter scurried in front of him. She was a natural adventurer and fearless like her mother. She loved exploring and nature. He was a man who loved air conditioning and nice hotels with room service.
“They have a snack bar near the top right?” He laughed outloud.
A sea of hikers were flowing down the trail with faces showing accomplishment. He noticed many people a lot older than him.
“See, if grandma over there can do this? Why can’t a 36 year old man who played high school basketball do it?”
They reached the start and he looked up to see his path before him. He saw a man coming down who looked like he was going to pass out. He was sweating and huffing and puffing.
“Hmm…nah? He is probably just wearing the wrong outfit for hiking.”
He looked down at his own clothes…jeans and a t-shirt. He looked more like he was going out to buy new curtains for his bathroom than a guy who was on a nature trek. Not actually the first page of American Outdoorsman, but this should do for 0.8 miles.
The trail started to incline….and remained that way. He noticed his daughter flirting with the ledge of the trail.
“Bug…Bug…stay closer to mommy…on the other side.”
His mind raced as he started to see signs with warnings of wildlife and accidents.
His daughter looked back at him.
“Daddy, will there be bears here? I’m scared of bears.”
“Baby, remember? We said Gummy bears live here too…so if you find one, we will chase the Gummy bear down and eat him. Ok?”
She laughed and continued alongside her mother. She and her mother showed no sign of fatigue. He was having trouble, his breathing was short and he sneezed every 10 seconds. He began to regret how much he ate the day before. He naively thought a granola bar and an orange would balance out the All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ meal he had the night before.
0.8 seemed like 10 miles because of the unrelenting incline. He was amazed by his wife and daughter. The hike was not bothersome at all for them. He felt badly for making them slow down for him.
A lady sitting on a rock caught his eyes. She yelled in their direction:
“All downhill from here, only a few steps..you made it.”
His wife turned back to him, “I like that lady…so encouraging.”
They reached the destination and the man was exhausted. He sat down on a rock, he was so tired that the rock felt more like a bed than actual rock. His daughter had a bounce in her step. She was loving every second of it. Seeing her endless supply of energy made him question himself.
“My knees hurt. My legs hurt. It even feels like my eyebrows hurt. Am I this pathetic?”
He thought about it. His mind flashed back to his youth….late nights….all nighters…days spent playing basketball for hours with ease. And he remembered two days ago running to his mailbox outside and being out of breath.
“Wow….this is sad. I am 36, but my body feels like 63.”
There comes a time when we realize our own mortality. We realize that we really need to take care of ourselves. Not just for us, but for our loved ones. Waking up as a young person was simple and easy, now when I wake up, every bone in my body seems to make a cracking sound. Pop tarts sustained me as a young person, now I cannot even function without a large coffee. Is this what my life will be like from now on? Is my life going to be based on Starbucks locations? I feel terrible because my wife is active…she’s ran a 26 mile marathon…jumped out of planes…hiked up too many mountains to count. If there was a sport where she could try to jump on a moving train, she would probably be first to sign up. But, where was I during this 26 mile marathon? I was waiting for her at Carl’s Jr. eating a double western bacon cheeseburger. A total representation of which way our lifestyles were headed. I realized I NEED to be more active. I NEED to exercise. I spend many hours in cars stuck in traffic…that can’t be good either. Does it mean I will sign up for the next marathon available? Maybe…but let me finish this coffee first.
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