While I was in New Hampshire this last summer I fell in love with hiking. I had lived an hour and a half South of the White Mountains for twenty two years and had hiked only one of the forty-eight 4,000 foot mountains. So, since I was in the area for a while I made a personal goal to hike twelve of them.
In under two months I hiked thirteen.
Around number eight or nine I had some serious knee pain. I pushed through for a couple more peaks until one day I was in so much pain I was holding back tears as I limped three miles out of the forest.
After a month of rest, I decided to get back at it, and I challenged myself with an easy hike up local Pack Monadnock. The mellow hike up was fine. I beamed at the peak because that meant I was ready to head back up North to do some steeper, more rugged climbing.
But, on the way down those tears came back. This time, less because of the insane pain and more because I knew if I tried to hike an eight or twelve miler up North my knee would not make it.
My heart broke.
I gave myself another month of rest. It had to heal. I had to get back on top of a mountain before I moved away from New Hampshire again in January.
This time, I met some friends to hike Mount Major, a comfortable three miler. Made it to the top again, and I was stoked. I only had another couple months in New Hampshire, it was starting to get cold and I was confident I would be back in the Whites before I headed across the world for my next adventure.
Turns out I celebrated too soon, and the way down this mountain was the most painful day I can remember in a long long time.
I remember going to my cousins championship soccer game straight from the mountain. The walk to and from my car to the soccer field was undeniably painful and almost more so fustrating. This was the type of pain you tell yourself you finally need to get some help.
I went to the ER the next day and started PT the day after that.
Turns out my patella had decided to push itself so far forward and to the left that it was completly unaligned from where it was supposed to be.
I call this bad karma for making fun of my good friend, Nate, all summer for hiking with polls. Turns out those dorky things could have saved my hiking career.
After a couple months of PT and strengthening I sit at my computer in Indonesia thinking about how thankful I am and how proud I am of myself. Not because I took a life risk to quit my job and travel the world, but because yesterday I hiked a volcano.
Yesterday, I hiked a volcano and it was the first climb in the last six months that I have conquered with zero knee pain.
I share this story for a couple reasons.
First, I share this story because I am just like any other human and I like to selfishly share my victories.
But mostly I share this story because I want to remind anybody I can not to give up. Do not give up on the parts of life that make you feel alive.