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Waking up this morning feeling like a glutton for punishment, I decide to once again tackle the start of Barr Trail, one of the steepest sections of this famous trail. I left the house well before nine o’clock, thinking that would be in plenty of time to beat the crowds. After all, who wants to hike in the hot sun on a Friday morning at the beginning of a holiday weekend?
Apparently, everyone on the planet.
I had to park far from the parking lot and it was quite a hike just to get to the trailhead.
As I begin the climb, I notice that my legs feel like lead. I couldn’t understand how they could feel so heavy. My mind wandered to reviewing food choices and yes, there it was; I had been at a potluck the night before and although I had a bowl of soup before the potluck, I did have a little bit of bread and spinach dip along with my fruit and cheese. Also, we are experiencing a hay fever season like never before, and I am feeling the stress of all that ragweed pollen in the air. When my allergies are acting up, I do have stronger reactions to even small amounts of avoids. So let the heaviness in my legs serve as a reminder to up my level of compliance through allergy season.
I decide to make a concerted effort not to let my heart rate reach above 160 beats/minute. On the steepest sections of the trail I feel as if I am climbing at a snail’s pace. It was very difficult to not push myself beyond that limit. As I got further up the mountain, I began to feel flutters of panic and when I turn to head back down, I feel moments of definite, utter panic. I realize this trail is not only a physical challenge but an even greater mental challenge.
My nemesis. A beast to be slain.
When I was younger, I thought mountain climbing was for women who could not, or chose not to, experience natural childbirth. I don’t know what it is for men but that’s what I believed it was for women. My first child was born via c-section, my second was an HBAC (homebirth after cesarean). The homebirth was certainly harder on all levels but a much more transformative and complete experience than the hospital birth. And it took me to unknown depths of myself in countless ways. I highly recommend it.
As I was coming down the steepest sections of the trail, I relied on one of the more obvious lessons learned in labor: the only way out is through, one breath at a time. I tend to hold my breath when panicky and I forced myself to breathe through it. I did make it down the trail, shaky legs and all, and once at the bottom, wondered what all the fuss was about. I still don’t know for sure except that this trail, this beast of a trail, is challenging me on many different levels.
Just like homebirth.
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