• Mary Anderson

Trail Wisdom: Coping With the Ups and Downs

I stand on the top of a mountain feeling satisfied that my aging body made the climb. I eventually pull myself away from the views and make my way down. Sometimes I lose as much as 4,000 feet in elevation, and while I am going down I see the next monolith I will have to climb. I fantasize about zip lines and high bridges spanning the valleys. I imagine trams and helium balloons to float me across. But in the end I know I will have to walk it all. I can either complain about the constant loss and gain of altitude and the effort it takes to hike these ups and downs or I can accept it with grace. Of course, acceptance is the key to enjoying the hike.

It leads me to wonder what I must learn to accept off trail if I am to make my life more enjoyable. One thing, perhaps, is to learn to accept the downs, the difficult things life throws at me, knowing there will be peak moments to follow. Or better yet, recognizing that there is value in each down, whether it is down time or some rough patch in life. I would like to believe that, viewed from the right perspective, some sort of value can be found in every life event. I think this would mean incorporating the attitude I have learned to take when approaching a town or an unknown section of trail: I try to stay focused in the moment, gleaning information about what is ahead without worrying about how to make it turn out any certain way. Doing this has saved me a lot of worry and introduced me to some wonderful people. I wonder if I could learn to live each moment of every day from that same place.


Above: New snow in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. Mary sent this photo as she was entering the Winds a few days ago, on her way to South Pass, Wyoming, where she will end her 3,100-mile solo trek.

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