In the summer of 2015 me and about ten of my friends embarked on a backpacking trip in the mountains of New Mexico. The trip had been planned one year in advance leaving plenty of time to prepare both physically and mentally as the hike would chip away at both over the span of twelve days. Being the person I am I didn’t adequately equip myself in either category. This was personified by my continuous fear and unease leading up to the venture. Upon arriving we would stay in base camp for a day while we geared up and finalized the copious amount of redundant paperwork. Once completely fitted with food, gear, and other supplies bags would weigh anywhere from forty to sixty pounds. This weight would not seem manageable however the difficulty come with its conglomeration alongside thin air and steep slope. This would become my all too tragic reality for the next two weeks. The first several days were rather lacking in strenuosity with other activities taking the limelight; such as, rock climbing, cooking , eating and relaxing were the simple actions that were taken to relieve the reality of the upcoming days. Day five and six would be the days that would call upon me to find myself in that clean, fatal air that would mark the beginning of my end. The day started just like every other starting with tinges of illumination in the pointless darkness leading to the radiant rebirth of the sun. The call to urgency would come to us in the mid-morning as we set out to our next camp. The trek to a breakpoint was long but mostly easy with only mild vigor needed to reach it. We rested at “Clarke’s Fork” and had lunch in the wake of the towering black-top mountain. The break was ill-timed as rain began to roll over the range in droves. With it being in the later part of the day refuge from the storm would be futile if we are to reach our goal. In that hostile rain we began our ascension. The trail before us was a winding four mile stretch with hundreds of feet upward pointing towards the immortal summit. We began marching forwards carelessly up the mountain for an instant and an eternity. The rain fell consistently, berating our hoods and boots as we moved up the slope. The rain was gentle but it’s relenting nature soaked deep into our marrow. After an ungodly amount of time or perhaps no time at all we reached the crest of the pass. From this point we would frantically search for firewood and water for which to use. The search for both would take an inordinate amount of time leaving us to boil in the now freezing. We eventually found an old latrine that had been worn by its years, this was just about the only drywood for miles. While parties had been sent out i search of wood and water others were tasked with the more homely duties of tent making and cooking. The fire took ages to start up to the dismay of our greedy eyes but after fifteen minutes the torch of time had finally been lit. Now came the time of repair, a time for us to eat and to dry our clothes next to the abstract inferno that protected us from the damp mist that waited to envelope us once again. The spirit of the night would hold a melancholy identity for its duration. Nothing seemed as beautiful as sleep did that night on that rocky slope, but sleep did not come easy as I was left to my thoughts. Only the pessimistic thoughts of what tomorrow's reality flooded my brain leaving me to fall asleep soaked in dread. The next morning went with a flash, the cleaning, eating, packing, and orientation were almost as fleeting as my hope. Today we would summit Black Mountain. The days past had broken me and yesterday's events had destroyed what was left of my ambitions. As we left camp only fear drove my boots forward on that Godforsaken mountain. THe slope upward was worse than I had previously anticipated with every step matching or besting that of a staircase. The ridge leading up to the peek was also held devilish tricks used to toy with the unsuspecting hikers. A heartbreaking reality of mountains bewitched the crew. The optical illusion known as a false peek began to occur often. Every subsequent deceptions instilling hope then ripping it from our hands as violently as the jaggedness of the rocks. I became the reincarnation of sisyphus with each step leading to a brutal and spontaneous depression. A break was needed so it was taken, to regather the shards of the mask that is strength. I used this time as a sort of reflection for which to examine why I had come to this point in my life. In that minuscule amount of time I looked to the pride I had long before that had driven me to see my own weakness and to destroy them with the most vile hatred that my soul possessed. THis remembrance sparked something inside me that had been locked within the depths of my spirit safeguarded by familiar demons. What was found I cannot say with certainty but on that day I was reborn in a trial by fire. That last stretch of damned soil was no match for the overwhelming assuredness that enveloped me much like the dread of loss had a lifetime ago. The distance was nothing to me anymore, I had already decided that failure was not a feasible option. My future would hold only victory or death with no inbetween, there would be no trying from that point only success or failure. The summit had served as a testimony, a mental guideline that demanded nothing but the best. The wide skyline, with its powder blue void in the thin air seemed to be made to prove the power of self and the duty to achieve all that could not be attained.
The Finding of Purpose
February 21, 2018