The surprising power of encouragement

Black flies and mosquitoes buzzed around my head, inside my ears, and up my nose.  I grew more exasperated with every passing breath.  Not only was I fighting an army of bugs in my uphill trek, I was no longer able to see the rest of my climbing party.  In my imagination, I had officially become the bear bait that Albertans joke about. I was the slowest hiker in the group; the one that could not outrun the bear.

Packrat Hotel & our first view
Slowly, one foot ahead of the other, my climb continued.  When I was nearly ready to quit, I heard a voice encouraging me to keep climbing because the view was worth it.  We had already enjoyed one nice view of the foothills from the top of the Nordic Centre luge track.  Although the view had been nice, the climb had been unsettling.  The trail was all right.  It was the garbage in the bush, the speakers hanging precariously from trees, and the old plywood leaning grotesquely in the corners that made me uneasy.  The "world class" facility that the government website crowed about was an abandoned, overgrown, mess and a bit creepy.

At the top of the luge track, and I call it a luge track with great difficulty, we came upon a world class alpine meadow blooming with Wild Lupines, Wood Lilies, and Tall Bluebells.  We took pictures of the view.  We took photos of the flowers and the tiny little cabin called Packrat Hotel.  But we did something silly.  We only took pictures of the pretty parts.  None of my photos showed the broken picnic table and other assorted detritus, or the four foot by eight foot sheets of weathered sagging plywood that had been used sometime past to keep competitors and their luge sleds on the track.

The other side of the mountain 2016
We talked about the garbage and the decay.  Then we carried on up a small steep trail in a quest to reach the top of the mountain.  That was when I got left behind for bear bait.  I knew I was not too far behind, I could hear their voices but I couldn't see anyone.  Just as I stopped to contemplate giving up and turning around, Greg called out words of encouragement.  I was nearly at the top and it was worth it, now was not the time to give up.  Plus if I made it to the top we would once again be in a group and my chance of being bear bait was reduced from one in one to one in four, at least until we had to run. What a motivator that was.

One or two more steps and a few more ragged breaths.  There it was, a view of the Rocky Mountains with a spectacular valley in the foreground.  It was the kind of view that took your breath away if climbing failed to do that already.  Yes it was worth it.  We saw the world from different angles that day.  We saw the messy footprint of garbage people left on a pristine wilderness.  But closer inspection of the things growing at our feet revealed the beauty of a meadow of wild flowers.  We saw a pretty view of foothills, and we saw a staggering view of the majestic mountains.  What if we hadn't stopped to look carefully at the stuff growing right under our feet?  What if we had become discouraged by the state of the facility and had turned back?

We would have missed out.  I wonder how often we make choices to quit or turn back too soon because we focus only on the damage or the pain.  I want to keep hearing that voice calling back to me, the one that encourages me to keep climbing, to keep trying, because it's worth it.  Whatever it is.