Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On Dealing with Failure

We've spent the summer attacking the list of White Mountain's 4,000 footers- 48 in total to be exact. It started out slowly and without a specific goal, sort of like- "let's see if we can hike again next weekend" type of thing. Then suddenly we were addicted to these hikes. My work weeks suddenly seemed shorter and more bearable with plans for adventure each weekend.

Over the summer weeks and weeks of successful hikes went by. We got up earlier to avoid massive thunderstorms. We pushed through on Owl's Head despite colossal downpours all day. Somehow we got our groove on and the hiking gods were with us.

But towards the end of the summer we started to hit road blocks. It started on Whiteface and Passaconaway. We had attempted these mountains at least twice before in previous years, but always had to turn back. On our chosen day this past summer we arrived sans lunch and sans band-aids/blister supplies.

My summer has been an amazing whirlwind of hiking and adventure that also included incredible blisters. Blisters that were really covered with more blisters and then covered with blood blisters. Really so many blisters that I couldn't possibly hike with out first aid supplies. And no lunch? The hike was doomed. We made it a few miles in because we wanted to stretch our legs. We hiked back to the car defeated again.

In September and October we ran into new dilemmas  The hikes we saved for last were further away and required close to three hours of driving just to reach the trail head. Timing was critical on these hikes because the days were shorter as dark crept in earlier. With six hours of driving and six hours of hiking we needed to make plans for someone to take out our dog. It literally required an army of pre-planning and calling in favors to complete these hikes.

We arrived at Mount Moriah at 8:30 am (that means we were up and at em' at 4:00 a.m. who-hoo) to find not a single parking spot at the trailhead and spray painted signs saying "don't even think about parking here."  

The next trailhead for Moriah was 30 minutes away, but we gave it a shot. A mile or so in a river crossing that hasn't quite frozen over yet but was covered in ice and slippery snow prevented us from claiming Moriah that day.

On Mount Waumbek we couldn't find the trail head once.

Another week we came back to discover that Adam forgot his pants- yes- forgot his pants!! No, he didn't drive up pantsless- but he wore a pair of jeans. Waumbek in November is covered in snow and Adam had no waterproof pants or long johns. At that point we had made so many trips up to these mountains to fail that we just freakin' went for it. We monitored the weather and Adam's comfort the whole time and ended up hiking Waumbek in jeans!

All those days of missteps and failure were crushing at the time. It's hard to look forward to something all week and then suddenly realize you forgot your pants (wink, wink). Even harder was the realization that our hope of completing the list before winter was slowly fading.

What I discovered about dealing with failure is this-- Sometimes you have to get up at 4:00 in the morning and drive three hours only to realize you forgot something. Places are hard to find. Stars don't quite line up perfectly all the time. But you know what? Eventually we climbed Mount Whiteface and Passaconaway. We eventually climbed Waumbek. And well Moriah...eventually we'll climb her too.

The point is- being in the outdoors, having outdoor goals, and taking up outdoor sports will have moments of failure. But everyday you get up you have a chance to try again. Everyday you wake up and are blessed with ability to put one foot in front of the other you get another shot-- that is unless you forget your pants.

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