It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the moment of epiphany; it was the moment of despair. We were trenching on grass; we were trenching in snow. We experienced the most difficult times; we experienced the most effortless times. In short, it was one of the most intensive yet most rewarding experiences that I have ever had.
In the beautiful city of Vancouver lives my best friend Ann, who I have known since middle school. On a gorgeous sunny afternoon, we set our foot to conquer the Garibaldi Lake with basic necessities of a bag, a water bottle, and some snacks. Our hike was 18kms with a total of 900m in elevation. The intensity of climbing consistently uphill was not to be underestimated. My legs were screaming at me to stop but the trail never quite levelled out. As the altitude got higher, it became harder and harder to breath. We started off full of energy but it did not take us long before our legs felt the stress. We soon realized that it was not the mountain we must conquer, but our minds.
At the time we started, groups of hikers have already returned in their hiking boots and equipment. In comparison, we were underdressed. On and on we went, our climb became increasingly difficult. Grass became covered in layers and layers of snow to the point where our narrow path became an uphill of melting ice. There were no fences to shield us and our runners simply did not have enough grips. One misplaced step and we could have easily slipped off. The hill continued to ascend. When we finally reached the first shoulder of the hill, we found another peak above us and another and another… The height to be achieved almost seemed as if it extended to infinity. Our initial enthusiasm soon faded and the climb began to feel never ending.
During our hike, we were stopped multiple times by groups of travellers who told us to turn back. They said we would never be able to reach the summit and make it back in time before the sunset. The sky was starting to darken and the air was starting to cool. Soon, the entire forest will be covered in complete darkness.
We had a choice to make: do we keep going or do we head back? It was the worst of times. There was no guidance. The night was creeping in and we did not know how much longer we were going to last.
I was about to turn back when Ann insisted to keep going. “We have already come so far,” she said, “that means we can go further.” Her determination ignited mine and we continued hiking. It did not take long before our determination started to fade with every slip and fall.
Just in time, a young hiker came our way to lead us to a secret shoulder point that was only 10 minutes ahead. Which, he said, was the best view throughout the entire hike. The moment we stepped out of the icy forest, we arrived at the rocky edges of the mountain. We experienced the most effortless times as we rested our backs against the forest and looked onto the magnificent glaciers towering in the distance. It was the best of times.
Worst of times brings out the best of times. Moments of despair leads to moments of epiphany. We trenched in snow to appreciate trenching on grass. We experienced the most effortless times shortly after experiencing the most difficult times. The question comes down to this: do you keep going even when the going gets tough?