It is my opinion that the things we work or suffer for most are the things we are most proud of. If a person works hard to develop a skill, they value that skill perhaps more than one that came more naturally. I learned recently that this principle also applies to experiences. Last year, I was invited to hike a mountain known to those in Provo, Utah as the Timp that night at midnight. I had never done a hike that long before, but I knew that I could do it. The others and I would begin the hike late that night and reach the top of the mountain in time to view the sunrise. I did a little preparation here and there; I packed some water and trail mix and I wore what I thought would easily be warm enough.
I suppose when I first heard about the hike, it did not occur to me how long it would be. I did not even wonder how many hours were between midnight and sunrise. I also did not consider that when we reached the peak of the mountain I was only half way finished, not to mention I would be running on zero hours of sleep.
I soon began the assent of the dark mountain. The air was colder than I had anticipated, but I wasn’t worried about it. As long as I kept moving I would be fine, however when my sweat turned cold on my body I began to rethink this theory.
After hours of monotonous trudging up the terrible mountain the initial excitement wore off indefinitely. The cold was biting every inch of me and my legs began to feel as stiff as the trees that surrounded me. I kept most of my focus on the ground, doing my best not to trip, but occasionally I would look up. The mountain blended into the night sky and the flashlights carried by the people who were far in front of and above me appeared to be stars slowly making their way to join their comrades in heaven.
I did eventually reach the top in time to see the sunrise. The swirl of brilliant colors seemed particularly vibrant peeking over the mountain tops. I tried to keep the magnificence of that sight with me as I made my way back down that morning. The trip down was infinitely more comfortable than the way up, but I will never forget how difficult and extremely unpleasant that night was and how in spite of that I made it all the way to the summit. There were those who stopped and turned back, but I had not. The victory was well worth the struggle.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.