Keep Making the Ascent
Even when you’re dead tired
by Joanne Troppello
You can do it.
Yes, your legs feel like rubber and you feel like you’re about to faint any moment.
Just keep going. Don’t stop. You’re almost to the top of the long walk back through the mountain trails.
Those are the words I kept saying to myself as we—my husband, sister, two nieces, mom, stepdad, and I—were making the trek back to our RV, parked in a private RV resort near Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina.
This occurred three months ago, and we were on day four of our vacation. We had decided to get away since we’d been cooped up so long due to the COVID-19 quarantine and the stay-at-home orders that had started to be lifted in our state.
Both the indoor and outdoor pools were closed due to the coronavirus and the resort management had asked members to abide by social distancing practices. We were one of the few members who were at the resort that week.
Because of COVID-19, there were not many activities we could do that week. However, we got to spend quality time together and had the opportunity to take a lot of hikes in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
At the time of the hike being referenced here, we had completed three of the six trails in the resort. My husband is a pest control technician and he walks for a big portion of his work day so he is used to walking a lot.
That’s not the case for the rest of us. My sister and I both currently work from our homes. We’re on the computer for a good portion of our days.
After three days of hiking—and not following my husband’s advice to start slowly and work up to 3 miles—we had done three days straight of long hikes.
I admit that I am not in the best shape and those hikes had been difficult for me. My mom and sister had felt the same way. However, we enjoyed spending time together as a family after being quarantined separately for over 2 and a half months—at that time.
We felt beat and our muscles ached, but it had felt good to get moving—and enjoy the beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lessons learned from those hikes
I had learned a few lessons on that trip to this scenic location that I’d like to share.
1. Life is precious
My husband had recently lost his father to double pneumonia. It was an extremely difficult valley to walk through—especially having to experience it during this coronavirus pandemic when only 10 people could attend the funeral and our immediate family had to wear masks while saying goodbye to Pop. It was hard for my husband and his big Italian family to deal with the fact that they couldn’t attend the viewing and had to social distance, without hugs, during the funeral.
Hiking with my family and feeling exhausted while doing it, had reminded me that life is precious. Many people are experiencing loss during this time—loss of loved ones, lost freedom of living normal life to protect others, and losing that intimacy of personal connection due to social distancing.
Focus on the important things in life, which are people and sharing that human connection with them. That had been more difficult to do during quarantine life—and more recently with states opening up again—but people have relied on technology to keep in touch.
Let’s all do our best to cultivate those connections.
2. Keep Going
That sounds like a trite statement, but it was the only thing that got me through that one especially long and difficult hike and had barely been able to make it on the climb back up the mountain. My legs had been shaking. We had stopped for water breaks along the way. About a third of the way back, we had started singing songs to motivate us to keep going.
It had actually worked. We were still dead tired but singing took our minds off the excruciating exhaustion. That was a lesson to me that even when you’re going through a difficult time, having a positive attitude can motivate you to continue moving toward your goals.
3. Enjoy nature
I live in Pennsylvania. We have many scenic places and we love spending time outdoors. However, this had been our first time in North Carolina and seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains. We experienced breathtaking views and enjoyed the peacefulness of being in this natural scenic area.
I hope you can take some time during quarantine life—and our transitioning out of it—to enjoy nature. If you can, take a walk in your neighborhood. Sit outside in your back yard. Prior to this trip, my parents had a wine and cheese party with their neighbors all going out to their backyards and social distancing.
Those words in my self-mantra encouraged me to keep going that day even though my legs didn’t want to move another step. Keep climbing and persevering through your valleys to the mountaintop.
Previously published in Medium.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.