So, on the weekend my girlfriend and I decided it would be a good idea to climb to the top of the mountain behind our house in Lake Country called, Spion Kop. It’s more of a hike than a “climb” with a moderate to difficult rating, but for someone with an incomplete spinal cord injury, it was a grind—a test of determined endurance. The kicker was, I didn’t fully grasp what we were getting ourselves into when we left the house that day.
We set off at 2:30 PM, which in late November means we didn’t have a whole lot of daylight left in the day. We had to move quickly. The hike starts with a wide, winding path through the forest that dips and dives without much elevation gain, but before long, it gets steep. There are plenty of spots where the trail levels out, but as we approached the summit, we chose to tackle a straight shot up a loose, rocky section with a small scramble just before the peak—easier said than done.
For most people, navigating the trail and making your way onto the rocky outcropping at the peak—no problem whatsoever—but for me, my legs were close to their limit. After my spinal cord injury, my legs don’t ever feel tired; they just become hard-to-use. Spasticity makes them reluctant to “get the message” and follow instructions once I push too far.
Hiking Spion Kop reminds me of some of the other “climbs” we make in our lives.
The hardest paths are the most rewarding ones.
In recent months, I’ve been managing injuries at the sacrifice of my regular exercise program. My strength isn’t where it’s been in the past, and coupled with not knowing how steep the last hundred or so meters would be, I wasn’t feeling prepared.
I kept my head down and kept pushing. Navigating the final steps on wobbly legs, but I made it!
When I gathered my composure and steadied my footing on the rocky ridge, I finally took a moment to appreciate the view. I remember thinking about just how lucky we are to have this natural beauty on our doorstep.
The summit is symbolic for so much in our lives. The hardest paths are the most rewarding ones. The challenges that take the most effort are the ones that create growth. Our challenges are the way forward, and once we stand on top, it’s essential to take a moment to enjoy the view. We need to appreciate the work that went into the achievement, which is something we often miss when life gets busy.
I stood on the peak, feeling gratitude for the moment, knowing that without the struggle, the reward couldn’t have felt so good.
Have you ever jumped in headfirst to something, not fully knowing what challenges lay ahead, but ended on top?
Chances are, your answer is absolutely, yes. So, you’ve done it before and you can do it again. Don’t hesitate to take the hard path; it will almost always be the most rewarding one.