Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hiking Thoughts

A week ago, I thought I was going to die. I was hiking a trail in the Gallatin Mountains near Bozeman, Montana with my husband. Technically, he was not right with me; he was hiking ahead of me because I was slow. Not just a little slow either. Snails could have outpaced me. The trail kept climbing higher and higher, and I got slower and slower. My back and knees and ankles and shoulders were tight. I kept stretching and trying to go faster but my body refused to listen. I took breaks. I drank water. I cursed. I sweat. I cried. I sang. I prayed. I cried some more. My loving and extremely patient husband hiked ahead of me, dropped his pack, and came back for me. Twice! He carried my pack until we got to his and then I put that stupid thing back on. He did try to give me an out and as enticing as it was (motel room and champagne!), I declined. With each step, though, I reconsidered but knew that staying the night in an old fire lookout was on my husband's bucket list, so I kept going.

We finally got to a marker telling us that we only had half of a mile to go! I was elated! I could make a half mile; I had already hiked 3.5. No problem! Then, we turned a corner and I looked ahead. The trail became more steep and was covered in rocks. I started crying again, but kept moving until I couldn't breathe. I was so frustrated with myself and not being able to hike and keep up with my husband that I had an asthma attack. I finally agreed to completely drop my pack and my husband carried both of them the last quarter of a mile to the lookout. At first, I didn't care how gorgeous it was around the us because I was overwhelmed with exhaustion and emotions. Then, it started to rain. A hard, can't see anything around you rain. It came at the exact moment we entered the cabin. It was spectacular! When it stopped, we saw two partial rainbows and were able to enjoy an amazing sunset before heading to bed.

The experience after our hike was worth it, but it got me thinking about endurance and how to build that in my classroom. Each obstacle I faced was one I know my students face in academic situations and in life. Maybe not all of them all of the time, but they will face them.

1. My slow and steady pace was painful for me and frustrating for my husband. Luckily, he understood that I just needed left alone and given support to make it. He was that for me until the very end when I struggled the most. As teachers, we need to learn to step back and give students time to work through problems. We need to build a relationship with each one of them so we know how hard to push and when we need to cut them some slack. We need to be there to support them and carry them, but we also need to push them to improve.

2. Sometimes, we need to put aside our hopes and dreams so others can cross items off their bucket list. As much as a soft bed with air conditioning and no spiders would have been great, seeing my husband smile all night and for the last week made my pain bearable.

3. Jumping into a major undertaking may not be the best choice but it could work out in the end. I was not in shape for this hike. I was sore for the next five days. Muscle cramps, stiffness, aches. But I worked through all of that. I need to plan better for big events before saying yes. I need to learn to say no or to be more prepared when I say yes. I need to really think things through. Now, I am not saying that just jumping into things is bad. I fully believe that some of my best teaching and some of the best things in life are spur of the moment. I just mean that better planning and preparation will help those spontaneous events and teachable moments will be more fun and enjoyable if you are ready. If I had been in better shape, I know I would have enjoyed the hike a little more!

4. When storms happen in life, it is ok. In our classrooms, we all have bad days. We need to, again, step back and catch our breath. We will see the rainbows that come from our and our students' hard work after the storm passes.

Turns out, I wasn't even close to death. On the way back down the next morning, I smiled the entire way. I even ran some of the end because it was easier than baby stepping the steep declines. My husband was near me most of the way until I needed a bit longer of a break. However, I came off the trail right after he took his pack off so I wasn't that far behind him! I will hike again, but not without getting in better shape!
The little bitty thing on the green hill is the lookout.

Our view when we got halfway to the lookout.

The rain

After the rain

Rainbow #1

Rainbow #2


So pretty!

The only wildlife we saw were 3 deer, birds, and spiders.

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