My day starts at 3:30am. There are six of us who have chosen to challenge ourselves to summit Round Top Mountain at 13,804 feet elevation to see the sunrise.
I realize that there is more to this challenge than the physical elements of climbing a mountain. It’s dark and cold as we begin our early morning trek crossing a huge boulder field. I am twenty days into my National Outdoor Leadership adventure in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. I know what it is like to be out of my comfort zone and feel small and overwhelmed. However, I am discovering that I am beginning to understand more and more of who I am!
I hike through the boulder fields and begin my ascent to 12,850 feet. It is still dark except for the moon and the stars. Each of the six of us encourages one another as we climb steeper and steeper. As I push and challenge myself in the mountains of Wyoming, I learn an important life lesson: I don’t have to be like everyone else. I have become comfortable in who I am and realize I only have to answer to myself at the end of each day.
The higher we climb, the thinner the air becomes and the more treacherous each step becomes. Sheer drop-offs are close by and darkness still abounds. Time is moving on but we are determined to not become discouraged. As the sun begins to break the horizon, we still have a ways to go to reach the summit. Our goal has not been achieved but we are determined to push on.
We reach the summit, exuberant to have accomplished this feat. To my surprise I find a canister atop the summit. Inside the canister is a pencil and notepad along with a list of forty names and states of others who have reached the top. I realize there is not one name from North Carolina. Being the first to sign the list from North Carolina gives me a sense of accomplishment. This summit has made me realize that I have moved from feeling small and overwhelmed to a place where I know myself. I am not afraid of challenges and know that I don’t have to succumb to fitting in and being controlled by my peers.
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