A few years ago, I made it a goal to hike 31 miles over the course of the year in honor of my 31st birthday. I spent countless hours researching parks, trails, drive times, and places to eat. Almost every weekend that summer was spent driving out to a hiking trail at various parks around Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah. Most of the trails we selected were around 3-5 miles round trip. In most cases, there was always a lake or waterfall waiting for us at the end of the trail. We once drove 3 hours to hike 3.5 miles up a steep mountain to soak in a natural hot spring with the most amazing view!
As I approached the end of my goal, I decided I wanted to tackle a trail in Grand Teton National Park that would take us to Delta Lake. I had my eye on this trail all summer because it had the most beautiful lakeside view of the Grand Teton. The trail would be flat to begin with, then move into a series of switchbacks, and take you to an unmaintained trail in which you traverse over a field of boulders. It would be the longest hike we had done at about 10 miles round trip, 2-3x longer than any other hike we had taken that year. Would it be hard? Yes, but I didn’t care. I was up for the challenge.
We were excited to reach the boulder field because it meant we were that much closer to the lake. At first, climbing over the rocks was fun and easy. We had to make our way straight across through the field and then we reached a point where we had to start climbing UP the boulders. It soon became exhausting, and got very steep, very quickly. From the boulder field we could see the main road and all the tiny little cars parked off the side. In this moment I suddenly realized how far away from the car we were. And it was in that moment that I started to panic. How on earth was I going to get off this mountain? Was I going to have to sleep in the boulder field tonight? It had taken hours to get here, and we hadn’t even reached our destination yet. Maybe a helicopter could come pick me up, because going back down the mountain seemed impossible. I broke down.
At this point I decided to look at the GPS map on my phone. I was so worried about hiking back down the mountain that I hadn’t realized how close I was to reaching my goal. Merely a few hundred feet lay between me and Delta Lake.
I plucked up some courage and the last bit of energy I had and we made it out of the rocky terrain and on to our last steep hill. As we reached the top of the hill the peak of the Grand Teton came into view and then the light blue-green lake was at our feet. I made it!
Sometimes, no matter how much we plan and prepare, we get hit with something that has potential to derail us from our goals. DON’T LET IT. It will stretch you almost more that you can bear, but it will be worth it. KEEP GOING!
P.S. I totally crushed my 31-mile goal.