Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take, But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away
As mentioned in a previous quote, my cousin and her boyfriend have set out hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this year. As I follow her journey through her Facebook quotes, it reminded me of my own journey 12 years ago, when I took a month off from work to hike the John Muir Trail.
For those of you not familiar with the John Muir Trail, it is a 230-mile one way hike from Yosemite National Park to the summit of Mt. Whitney. It passes through some of the most breathtaking alpine scenery I have ever witnessed in my life, traversing over several 12,000+ foot passes before finally ascending 14, 496 foot Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the continental United States.
While working at Sequoia National Park as a Park Ranger, I had heard many talk about the John Muir Trail as much of it passes through both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. I’d even talked to friends who had hiked the entire thing.
In the back of my mind, I’d stashed it away as one of those bucket list type of things. But along the way, I met a woman who lost her husband very suddenly and tragically. She too had wanted to hike the John Muir Trail. While it didn’t work out for us to do the trail together, her story inspired me.
Too many of us say to ourselves, “Some day, I will….” All those “some days” keep getting pushed off as we struggle with our day to to day lives of going to work, washing dishes, taking the trash out, etc.
I decided I wasn’t going to let my dreams fade into oblivion. And during Christmas, 2004, I decided this would be the year, I would hike the John Muir Trail. I got in touch with a friend of mine who I thought might be interested, who agreed to do it with me along with his very fit 62-year old father, as well as another woman who joined in.
In the end, all three of them dropped out after five days. I met a man from Britain hiking alone and we ended up hiking together the rest of the way. Finishing became a struggle, as an early season storm dropped two feet of snow over the crest, but though it took a little longer, finish we did.
The experience empowered me to feel I could do anything, and reminded me of the awesome beauty of the Sierra and mountains in general. At one point, my partner and I remarked that we had “Scenery overload” from the breathtaking vistas we would encounter at every bend in the trail.
This experience helped me lead to our home today, high up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Being in the mountain not only takes my breath away, but restores my spirit, and renews my soul. I now live in a place that I expereince “moments that take my breath away” on a regular basis — maybe not every day — but on a regular basis.
And I do believe living that kind of life leads to greater fulfillment and life well lived.