Fifteen years. That’s how long I’ve lived in East Tennessee. In fact, this week marks the anniversary. And the blue-hued mountains hanging as a backdrop outside my back window still settle my soul. I feel more at home wrapped in their pine-fragrant hugs than I do in my temperature controlled apartment, as comfy as my apartment is.
Somewhere along the journey I lost my zeal for life and succumbed to laziness and self-indulgence. And while I hadn’t intended to dig deep in this reintroduction-after-a-two-year-hiatus post, pulling up roots seems inevitable. There are so many metaphors competing for entry into this post with words like roots, journey, and digging, but they’ll get their chance another day. Today I’ll just be real. Is that okay?
Since moving here, I’ve eaten my way into morbid obesity as a coping mechanism for stress. While that doesn’t stop me from hiking, it sure slows me down and makes any incline much more challenging than it has to be. Laziness and self-indulgence. And I’m rather sick of those two. I want to hike to LeConte without feeling like I need a breathing treatment every thirty minutes. And frankly, I want to look as cute as I can look in pictures snapped on the trails…despite my sweat-dampened skin and clothes.
I can deflect with humor and say things like, “Whales are cute but not squeezed into hiking clothes and gasping for air on a trail.” And we can all laugh. I might even convince you, maybe even myself, that I’m fine with my size. But it’s shameful. And unlike some bad habits that people hide so well, the effects of my bad habit have nowhere to hide.
So just like always, I’ll continue to eagerly awake at 6:00 AM on Saturday mornings to hike with friends. I’ll continue to push myself and take ten more steps up the steep incline to reach that next tree, only to keep repeating that for several miles. And hopefully along the way, I’ll rediscover my lost zeal. Hopefully I’ll shed the laziness and self-indulgence and finish the year lighter in spirit and body.
My 2016 hiking goal: 115 miles. Total to date: 58-ish.
Up next – LeConte Lodge: Vacancy