Not only did I get to ride horses at the leadership retreat in Colorado (which I wrote about here and here), but I went on the best hike of my life. When my wife and I checked in (as a huge, special bonus, she got to join me on this trip) the ranch staff gave us a map of the trails and pointed out several great options, but warned us to take it easy. Altitude sickness is a real danger for those who don’t live at high altitudes. So quite reasonably, they recommended the beautiful and flat Nature Trail (on the far left of the map).
But if you know me, you know what’s coming. By the time we got to the trail head, I convinced my wife to take the right fork instead of the left, to abandon Nature Trail and try Sheep Rock Trail instead. We only had this one window to hike a long trail. Our next couple of days would be busy and going to the top of a mountain seemed cooler than a walk in the woods. Sure, our map said it was the most strenuous of all the trails. But looked like the most fun trail to me.
The truth is, we didn’t realize what we were in for. It was more “climb” than it was “hike” with most of the trail rising at a 45 degree angle—often much steeper. If we would have known what we were in for we might not have started. I’m glad we didn’t know.
We had to stop several times in the next 90 minutes to catch our breath. It would have been a hard climb if the air wasn’t thin—and it got thinner the higher we climbed. But each time, we decided to go just a little farther. As a result, we ended up climbing much higher than we would have thought possible when we started. And we ended up enjoying views much more amazing than we expected.
In fact, in was one of those profound moments in my life, when I knew I was doing something important. I felt like I was acting out a metaphor of my life. Rather than the safe, recommended paths of life, I tend to take the other trail—the most strenuous trail. It ends up being much harder than I thought it would be. Some days all I can do is try to catch my breath. I often don’t have the strength for more than the next step. But in the end, it turns out to be much more rewarding than I thought.
Maybe you’re facing a choice in your life. Can I encourage you to not rule out the more strenuous path, simply because it’s harder? Because the most difficult paths in life offer the most rewards. Tweet This In the end, I think you’ll be glad you didn’t take the easy road every time. I know I am.
To misquote Robert Frost’s famous poem:
Two trails diverged on a ranch, and I—
I took the more strenuous one,
And that has made all the difference.
Our view from the top! Eat that, Nature Trail! 🙂