Day 156. Two Types of Hikes

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In 1873 a survey group slashed their way through the growth moving upward in the San Gabriel Mountains. They got to what they hoped was the highest peak only to realize that there was another, higher peak now visible nearby. To commemorate that moment, they named the lower peak they stood on Mount Disappointment, while the other peak became San Gabriel Peak.

I think that there are two approaches to day hiking.

1. You start up higher and make your way downward overall moving amongst the trees and making a lot of stream crossings. You may travel up sometimes, but it’s never too strenuous and there is always an equal down slope accompanying it. This hike is more about enjoying the moments around you as you walk.

2. You start lower and make your way upward hoping to get to the top of a peak. This hike is all about the challenge and the reward of a great view at the top. This hike sacrifices the enjoyment of the moments for the payoff of the accomplishment of working really hard and getting to the top of something.

Michelle and I hiked the San Gabriel Peak today. The San Gabriel Peak hike is the second kind of hike, and I chose it. A couple of weeks ago we had hiked a place called Switzer Falls which was a beautiful first type of hike, Michelle chose that one.

I have to admit, the hike today was less than pleasurable, mostly due to bugs. I thought we left those swarms behind in Missouri, I was wrong. They were everywhere and Michelle was having none of it. But, we stuck it out and got a great 360 degree view up top, from the highest peak in the area, even Michelle said it was worth it.

This hike was eerily analogous to our approaches to our lives and to this particular adventure in our lives. Michelle is altogether Hike 1, she wants to enjoy what is around her, go up and down a bit, but would choose not to make things hard. I, on the other hand am completely Hike 2, when something is hard and daunting is attractive to me. I will like something just because it seems hard and I like the challenge of it. I’m very willing to sacrifice the present for the sake of peaking a challenge down the road.

This is where we stand now.We’re in the middle of a Hike 2.

This is all about the challenge and is all about sacrificing the present, for the sake of something bigger down the road. Our perspectives on this approach is the essence of why this is harder for Michelle than it is for me. I looked at the guidebook and chose this hike. We absolutely talked it through, but this is my type of hike.

Our lives before I moved was definitely a Hike 1, and it suited Michelle better than it suited me. This is not to say, that I wasn’t happy with it, I like those hikes, but I also think, “Yeah, but where is the crazy challenge?”

Along the way we’ve had plenty of steep parts, and plenty of slippery parts, and a surprising number of bug swarms. We’ve also made our way up Mount Disappointment plenty of times. Sure, the bugs bother me, but I’m thinking about the view when we get to the peak. The bugs annoy Michelle more and she would rather we were enjoying ourselves in the present moments.

So, we have to talk things out, a lot. We’re both happy to do it. Each time we do is like a little opening in the trees where we get to stop and enjoy the view.

Michelle goes back home on Friday. This has been an awesome time. She has gotten so much in during her time here, it’s been amazing. She’s loved it and I’ve loved it. It’s hard, it feels like we’re moving apart all over again.

At each point like this we have to decide which hike we want to be on.




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5 responses to “Day 156. Two Types of Hikes

  1. jenksie

    Dear Jeff & Michelle: you never cease to inspire me. Crying at work over it. I’m that kind of hiker.

  2. leah

    I don’t always comment when I read, and sometimes I fail to keep up with this blog on the daily, but this post in particular grabbed me. I think it has to do with how I feel that this blog is an eerie parallel to what my life will be in about three to four months when Matthew is out in LA and I am back in MO. When I make my way out there to join him though, we shall have a party. I am thinking seriously about doing some classes at UCB – I’ll text you about it later. I’d like to hear your thoughts about your time there.

  3. Rob White

    Five stars.

    This should make the excerpt list on Amazon when “Letters From Jeff” hits the Kindle store next year.

  4. Mark Foster

    Finally got around to catching up on the past week of your posts… found this one to be very insightful- I am at a hike 1 v. hike 2 crossroads myself. thanks for the post.

  5. Great post! I love it, as it probably mirrors Shannon and our hikes. 🙂

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