Starting to Train
“THE REMARKABLE THING IS WE HAVE A CHOICE EVERYDAY REGARDING THE ATTITUDE WE WILL EMBRACE FOR THAT DAY.” – Charles Swindoll
A good friend sent the entire reflection to me earlier this year, a friend I relied on for honest feedback, fun arguments, and helpful advice. That friend is now gone, and I’ve had to reread that reflection every day since his departure to cope with that loss.
Our friend knew life was short, and that it is best to live it as much as you can. His passing has made me reflect much on that. So, when Jarrett brought up a December Big Bend trip again, I took the opportunity to say I’d join. I’ve never been to Big Bend, and I figured training for a seven-day hike would give me the motivation I need to up my fitness. At the same time, I feel it’s a distraction, or a way to channel the pain of the loss, or maybe both. Training the body to improve its endurance and the mind to try to stay in the present is a therapy I’m willing to try.
So, our first “training” trip was to River Place Nature Trail. It’s in west Austin and offers three trails to explore: The Fern Trail, the Canyons Trail, and the Panther Hollow Trail. The Fern Trail has plenty of waterfalls, the Canyons Trail traces the golf course, and the Panther Hollow Trail offers the highest elevation change in Austin. At least, that’s what their website says… We only made it through one mile of the Fern Trail and then walked back.
The trail is difficult. It is steep after step continuously going up or down or up and then down. It’s been raining in Austin too, so some areas were slippery. The paths are narrow, so BeeGee and Jarrett walked in the front while us slow pokes, Angela and me, walked behind them. As you may or may not know, BeeGee and Angela are notorious pullers. It’s a habit Jarrett and I did not succeed in overcoming. Making it worse was Angela’s stops. So, she pulls and stops. Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep my balance and stay behind Jarrett, while at the same time going on the greatest physical challenge I’ve had in a long time!
So, after hiking for a little over a mile, we arrived at a stream and small waterfall. It was quiet and peaceful. You could even sit and listen as the water flowed downstream. I sat on the bench, listening to the water as Jarrett and BeeGee explored. As I caught my breath I looked around. Though the humidity was unbearable, the moisture and dark clouds seemed to add a mystical element to the moment. BeeGee enjoyed dipping her feet in the water, while Angela never lost sight of Jarrett. We hung around for a bit, taking pictures of some interesting friends, such as flowers and frogs. Then we journeyed back the mile we had come in through.
Which brings me back to the initial quote. On the way back, I was soon in a bad mood. Growing up, I didn’t participate in many sports (which is a whole story unto itself), so I never learned to enjoy exercise or push myself through workouts. Yes, I try to stay active, but mostly through walking or learning to swim lately. But going on the Canyon Trail was very different, and a great challenge for this non-athlete. I was huffing and puffing and answering shortly to any questions Jarrett shot my way. But at a certain point, while going up a steep set of stairs, I remembered what my friend had sent me, that wisdom about attitude. It seems cliché, but I figured I didn’t lose anything by changing my attitude. In fact, I would lose the experience if I kept focusing on my anger at my perceived body weakness and lack of balance. I wouldn’t gain anything if I focused on the anger I felt for our friend leaving either. So, I followed his advice and worked on changing my attitude.
I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s not like it was a magical epiphany that suddenly brought me peace and instant pleasure at climbing those steep stairs. But it allowed me to realize that by changing my attitude, I could change the course of this experience, this moment. I was able to turn this hike into a pleasant experience….
At least until we got to the car. Then exhaustion kicked in and I was hangry. Anyway… if you’re looking for a hiking place in Austin that can seriously kick your butt and prepare you for Big Bend, then visit River Place Nature Trail!
I ended up not being able to go on the Big Bend trip, but we are now preparing for a hike of the Inca Trail in Peru.