Friday, June 21, 2019

When (not) to call it

"Ugh," I whined while climbing through a pile of downed trees across the trail.  "It's ok with me if we go somewhere else."

The trail was seldom used.  Barred from accessing the flatter, maintained one because of a road closure, we had opted to hike this one.  It had not been cleared for a few years and was brushy and faint in places.  Our feet were soon soaked by the wet vegetation.  We scouted for the trail in spots, finding it by locating cut log ends.  We dragged ourselves over large fallen trees.

We kept going, buoyed by the hope that it would probably get better, and eventually it did.  The trail broke out onto open slopes full of flowers, at one point bisected by an active bear den (although the resident was gone for the summer, we hoped).  Eventually we arrived at our goal, a former lookout cabin high on a ridge.

None of us really wanted to turn around.  It's always hard to do, on a run, a hike, a career, a relationship.  You've already invested so much; it's bound to get better, isn't it?  Usually it does, and you find yourself in a beautiful place, the struggle to get there mostly forgotten.  Other times you've gone a little too far, and end up injured or near hypothermic or heartbroken.  When in doubt I've mostly rolled the dice and taken the chance.  A few times this has led to spectacular failure; most times it's been worth it.

We didn't turn around.  We knew we probably wouldn't, that the whole five miles couldn't be as bad as the first, that the trail climbed so steeply that it was bound to ascend above the big trees quickly.  We sat in the cabin, enjoying our good fortune.  And the way down wasn't so bad after all.

When do you call it? Is there a time when you should have but didn't, or when you did, but regretted it?  Tell me a story!

10 comments:

  1. My story is more of an "almost changed but didn't."
    I've worked for the same fire department for over 30 years. About 20 years ago, my boss was a really unpleasant person and I hated my job. I remember taking a shower one morning and contemplating a choice whether to go to work or slit my wrists. Not literally, but the situation was that bad. At some point, I applied for a job with another department and when I didn't get it, I was devastated. At that point, I had no other choice but to stay in my job. So I hung in where I was (am) and eventually the awful boss was "promoted" out of our division. At that point, I was asked to take the position, which I did and held for 7 years until the workload got to be overwhelming. At which point, I voluntarily took a lesser position, which I've loved and held for the last 8 years. I'm now almost ready to retire, and when I think back on what might have happened, I'm so glad I didn't get that other job. My career has turned out just like it was supposed to.

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    1. I feel the same way! There was a job that I was told I was going to get that went to someone's drinking buddy instead. I was really upset, but as it turned out the direction I ended up going was a better one. Sorry about the awful boss, though.

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  2. I almost always try to have researched the trail so I know the rough estimate of how much further...because I don’t want to turn right around the corner from the beauty...and because I’m usually the one that makes the decision to turn!

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    1. I'm a big researcher too. We never really know around here what has been maintained lately. Mostly due to declining budgets for trail crews, sadly.

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  3. I've done that with long runs, knowing I have XX miles to do but wanting to turn back early. Usually on those runs where I went past the point of turning back, I ended up getting rewarded with seeing some deer or bunnies, or just something neat and wonderful that I wouldn't have seen had I not kept going.

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    1. I suffer from always wanting to see what's around the corner!

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  4. A lot of my more difficult hikes I usually have a moment (while trudging up a steep hill in the heat) where I try to talk myself into cutting things short. But I usually persist and in the end it's always worth it.

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  5. I am notorious for just keeping on, even when I should turn around! I have gotten lost once doing that. Okay, maybe twice. Now I use better map apps :)

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