There’s a great hike here in Virginia, and I was privileged enough to spend a large portion of my life with it basically in my backyard. It’s up a mountain called Old Rag and when we were visiting family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I climbed it again, for the first time in years.
There are two paths to the top of Old Rag. One is wide access road, that leads to a trail to the summit. The other is a trail that leads to a pretty significant rock scramble to the summit. The most common route to take is up the trail, across the scramble and then back down the access road.
What is a rock scramble, exactly, you might ask?
To which I’d reply that I don’t actually know the technical definition, but to me it means scaling rocks in a way that doesn’t require any special equipment (other than some decent tread on your shoes) but is significantly more intense than walking up a trail. It involves big steps up, and low crouches down. A little jumping and some shimmying sideways. A little sliding by the seat of your pants (maybe that’s just me).
It also requires some faith. In yourself. And in those who went before you.
Because there were moments when I was standing on top of a rock and thinking: How exactly am I going to get from here to there? There are rocks behind me, rocks ahead of me. It’s not like I can just turn around and easily walk down. And then I would remind myself that thousands of people had done this before me (including a 20-something-year younger version of myself). And that all I had to do was take a minute to get my bearings, access the situation and determine the right way forward. Not the fastest way. Not the most elegant way. Not the most recommended/best practices way. Not even necessarily the same way as my husband. (Folks who are 6’4″ scramble rocks a little differently than folks who are 5’5″.)
Nope. None of that. All I had to do was find the next right step and stand strong in my belief that I could take it.