Pressing on…

Sitting on a rock outcropping thousands of feet above our little town, my daughter asked me to pass the water.

Relieved and grateful to have this windy respite from the mosquito swarms of the forest and a much needed break for her little legs, she opened the water bottle and took a long slow conscious sip. Perhaps, the most appreciative drink of water she’d ever taken in her eleven years on this Earth.

It’s funny what we take for granted. The miracle of water, the gift of life, these epic mountains that loom above us. From the comfort of our domesticated lives it all just fades into the background. Against the flash of the TV screen and the buzz of the mass media these precious gifts can almost seem dull and boring.


My daughter has lived 9 out of her 11 years at the base of these mountains and had never ventured into their vast wilderness. Never knowing the mysterious abundant life they hold.

The layers of ecosystems that unfold from the desert-scape we live in…the richness of wild food and medicine, the density of leaves and trees and growing things, the sweet smells and exquisite flowers, the secret lives of marmots and big horn sheep and the crystal clear waterfalls and lakes that touch the sky 4,000 feet above our town and pour forth into our own familiar creeks.

This inauguratory hike was BiG work for her (and actually for me too). The trail was steep and long. The mosquitos were ruthless. The sun beat down on us. And she didn’t know if she could do it. This was, by far, the most difficult physical feat she’d ever taken on in her young life.

About ten minutes into the hike she was already hunched over, groaning and tired…asking to take a break. I urged her to sink in, enjoy the walk, let the mountain carry her. She rolled her eyes and reluctantly pressed on.

As we ascended through the different zones along the trail she went through her own cycles of acceptance and resistance, getting into the groove and struggling against the strain. But she kept pressing on. The deeper in we got the more realistic our goal of reaching the lake became and the more her spirits lifted. Even as our legs fatigued and our pace slowed to a crawl in that last stretch before the lake she willingly pressed on. 

She pressed through her doubt and fear and pushed her body past its brink of comfort and she reached the top, the depth, the reality of the mountains she’s grown up with.

For the first time…she knew them.


She knew the sunlight through trees, she knew the scent of wild rose in the air, she knew the silent mirror lake reflecting the ancient sky, she knew the strength of her muscles carrying her along their slope, she knew clean water coming into her body to replenish and revive the energy and sweat she had poured into the mountainside…and she knew the gift of her precious life. 

It takes this.

It takes this stretching beyond our comfort, beyond our known, beyond our familiar routines and the monotony of preprogramed predictability…to really knowto know life and water and ourselves, first hand.


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