Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Subtle Benefits of Perseverance

Back in November of 2012 an assortment of middle aged to older girls in our tiny town started a hiking group.  We all had differing reasons for getting active:  One of us had recently retired and the celebrations that followed had her girth expanding faster than a starving dog can inhale a hotdog; another had lost her daughter in a tragic car accident a couple of years previously, and in the fall out from dealing with that had  lost her job, gained too much weight, gone into depression etc but was now ready to start living again.  I was struggling to find enough work and had way too much time on my hands, also out of shape and losing hope for a bright future.
Looking across at our shadows in the early morning light.

On our first hike there were three of us and we sweated and huffed our way around an approximate 2.5 mile loop with 2 good aerobic climbs included.  We were jubilant! By the end of the second week there were five pairs of dusty boots pounding the trail which had now included one more steep climb and another mile. 

Taking a quick breather at the top of the ridge.

Looking back over the 18 months we have come a long way.  Our mission has always been to uplift each other and support each other in what ever way was a appropriate for the situation.  We have prayed over illnesses, we have pitched in when someone needed help, we made food and delivered to another's  home, we have laughed - a lot!,  told off colored jokes, celebrated each others lives,  and we have cried. 

Two of our girls have passed on over the year in unexpected circumstances.  Two little crosses are now high up on the hill above the trail.  Those girls are with us still.

Me with Simone & Sarah

The benefits we have gained through a year and half of 3 day a week hiking are quite profound, but quite subtle, too.  Aches and pains not longer bother us, and the ability just to be able to get up and do the next task at hand is a matter of ease.  However, those are not the only benefits.  The wisdom and insights I've gained from the others have helped in many situations.  The oldest of us is 74 and she is very knowledgeable about wildlife, especially the reptiles. Another is very knowledgeable about the plants.  I pick their brains often as I'm always looking to identify some bush or creature I have photographed.

Hiking up one of the steepest parts of the trail
Two of the original three are still hiking and the third one has found a great job, which is what she wanted.  Others have joined us for a while and then they lives moved on - or ceased.  I have learned from them all and will be grateful to our little group for the rest of my life.  I may move on, too, but I will carry very special memories with me.  That kind of baggage I will enjoy hauling.        

Looking down from above as the trail winds back through the cool marshy area.

       I'm linking this to Friday My Town Shoot Out!
The topic this week is looking up, looking down and looking across.  I hope this qualifies.  Click the link to see more entries from across the world.