After I got out of work I went for a hike.
After finding the trail again, I started.
The trail is really pretty and well maintained.
And they are great about making brook crossings easy.
And they make sure you don't get lost.
In no time at all I reached the half-way point.
This is when the climb starts for real.
Nature has some wonderful structures in it. Almost like stairs.
This is where I realized that forgetting my hiking boots and doing this in skater shoes was going to be tricky. It was very slimy in a lot of places.
This picture is from about 15 minutes in, and I am starting to get tired.
The trail seems to get steeper, but it is still gorgeous out here.
The volunteer crew has added some stairs to make the climb a little easier.
The massive amounts of rain we have had lately really brought the minerals out of the ground. I think this water is orange from copper in the soil. It was running down the mountain in quite a few places.
I learned to appreciate the flatter parts of the hike, but they always lead to more climbing LOL
Half an hour into the hike and there is sweat dripping off my nose, and into my eyes.
However, the birds are still singing and the scenery is still great. It is time to keep going. Nature has built in reminders to pick up your feet while hiking.
I start to let the negative voices creep in. It is getting steeper, the bugs are crazy hungry, I forgot my Ipod, and I am wearing the wrong shoes.
And it keeps getting steeper.
I look down and it seems like this slug is moving faster than I am.
But I keep going. I know I can do this- I just need to do it.
And then I see something that makes me very happy- the old Fire Ranger's cabin.
It has been colorfully decorated over the years.
Just a further and I see the base of the fire tower.
Just a couple of more things to conquer to reach the goal. First the rocks,
and then the tower. (I counted 93 steps on the way up, but 91 steps on the way down. LOL I think the downward count may have been more accurate)
I finally reached the top. 43 minutes and 22 seconds later! New personal record for this mountain!! It was hazy and cloudy, but still beautiful.
After enjoying the views, the birdsong, and the solitude for a while I realized the journey was only half over. I still needed to go down.
I use the journey back to see things from a different perspective.
And see things that I may have missed on the way up. At a certain point of exhaustion I stop taking in the sights and start focusing on the end goal. I don't remember walking through the tree arch on the way up Lol
It is just as beautiful on the way down.
The halfway point looks even more welcoming on the return.
I actually took a moment to look around.
This is probably the breeding ground of most of the mosquitoes. Stagnant water is a great incubator for bugs.
When I got back to my car I realized a few things:
I did this for myself, by myself. I have never hiked this alone before, and didn't give up when it got difficult- without someone telling me that I can do it. I told myself that, for the first time- and believed it. I kept my smile the WHOLE journey. I was happy, even when the negative voices were kicking in.
I was having FUN. Usually I hike with an end goal in mind: Getting more fit, building endurance, conquering a mountain or trail, being able to say I did. I actually ENJOYED this hike.
I am learning to enjoy who I am- and my life, and I am very happy with that knowledge.
Thank you for virtually following me on my journey up Gile Mountain. I hope you enjoyed the scenery.
Note: Gile Mountain Tower Trail is 7 tenths of a mile long. The elevation difference from the bottom of the trail to the top of tower is approximately 350 feet (about the height of a 31 story building). The whole trip is less than a mile and a half. Great way to spend a morning.