I saw an article recently that heralded the fact that you’re never too old to climb a mountain. It suggested that we pay too much attention to our age. Then it asked if we start to feel a bit low in the run-up to our birthdays or do we plan ahead for what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. Further, it suggested that the adage that we’re as young/old as we feel becomes more important to our overall wellbeing.
All of this got me thinking about Mount Taylor. This particular mountain was 70 miles from my home. Even on a cloudy day, I could see its profile on the horizon every time I stepped outside. It never occurred to me that I would climb to the top of it. That feat was not on any bucket list until friends related their experience of hiking to the 11,900 foot summit.
WHAT? You can hike to the top of it? Of course you can. There most likely isn’t a mountain in the continental U.S. with a summit that cannot be reached by an ordinary hike. Difficult maybe. Treacherous even, but it can be done.
So if you’re as old as you feel, and you’re feeling old, then of course you would reject the notion of climbing to the top of Mount Taylor. I wasn’t feeling old. I’m still going on hikes that are quite strenuous. Some have elevation gains of 2,000 feet or more. The Gooseberry Springs trail that leads to the Mt. Taylor summit is 6.33 miles in length and has an elevation gain of 2,126 feet. The Navajo refer to it as Turquoise Mountain and consider it one of the four sacred mountains. We stopped frequently to catch our breath and as we reached the bare slope of the summit the winds picked up significantly. On one switchback the wind helped us climb, but as we turned into the next switchback, it created fierce resistance. Stopping to rest, we saw a hiker below us climbing at a rate much faster than ours and gaining rapidly. Turns out she was a through hiker doing the Continental Divide Trail. In her 20s, she was in much better shape than us 70-year-olds but we all arrived at the summit about the same time.
It was a moment to savor and while we could admire the 20-year-old’s stamina, we took the time to congratulate ourselves for making the effort to climb to the top of an iconic peak. We were/are as young as we felt/feel.
Jay Harrison is a writer and creative consultant for DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.