The concept of “grit” and the ability to “dig in” and persevere was the theme of my last article. As a continuation of this theme, I successfully hiked Mt. Whitney in one day this summer. This is the tallest mountain in the Continental USA starting at an 8,000 ft. elevation and peaking at 14,505 in a total distance of 22 miles. Undoubtedly, it ranks as the most difficult physical challenge I have ever tackled. This was confirmed when returning home as I read that 70% of individuals who attempt to hike Mt. Whitney in one day are unsuccessful. It took a good amount of physical conditioning, altitude exposure training, teamwork and a big dose of strong mental fortitude and “grit.” There can be many life lessons taken from this experience. One of the most resonating and universal lessons learned on the trail is one I will identify as:
“The universe always places someone before you who is doing more and seemingly reaching greater heights”
In this case, before starting the most extensive hike I have ever committed to, meeting Crazy Jack was my message from the Universe. Crazy Jack is a 66-year-old San Diego resident by the name of Jack Northam. He has climbed Mt. Whitney 117 times. On some occasions he achieves what is called a “yo-yo” which means he hikes the trail 2 full times – a makeup of 44 miles. I met Crazy Jack the night before this bucket-list hike. From the moment I met him, to the next day hiking, his accomplishments never left me. A deluge of thoughts flooded my consciousness with a mix of amazement and yet sometimes pure frustration and disbelief. One moment I was asking myself in a feeling of defeat, how in the world he was able to do the hike twice in a day when it took me 15 hours to complete one ascent. After questioning his integrity, I realized the larger lesson. Instead of minimizing my own capabilities, based on Jack’s more lofty accomplishment or questioning Crazy Jack, I must look at the message of inspiration as to what is humanly possible not only for myself but everyone around me. Sometimes we can be so very hard on ourselves. We tend to use others as a measurement of judgement for our own capabilities. Regardless of what one accomplishes, there will always be greater achievements that “up the bar.” This is the Universe’s way of inspiring us; thereby allowing us not to feel dejected or question our own personal accomplishments.
Our wellness and highest level of radiant health can be achieved by setting all sorts of life goals. Goals, such as; weight loss, overcoming unhealthy habits, fitness challenges, positive financial goals and etc. As we travel the roadmap of life we will inevitably witness others who seem more self-actualized and have achieved something that we have not. This is our opportunity to thank the Universe for the inspiration and the ability to forge ahead thereby breaking new barriers of personal achievement.
Kudos to Crazy Jack for his inspiration me and allowing the vision that life begins and ends on the trail. I’m certain my next adventure surely will unearth another superior adventurist who I can tip my hat to in admiration and inspiration.