Woody Ridge is one of the hardest hikes in the Eastern United States. As you can see on my watch, it rises almost 3,000 vertical feet in about 2.5 miles.
This past week is set out to run/hike/climb it. I was humbled, to say the least.
6 Lessons from Woody Ridge about Life, Leadership, and Personal Growth
Views Change. I started at 5:15 am and it was completely dark. With a headlamp, I started up the trail hoping for a beautiful sunrise. I did this hike while I was on vacation. My parents live at the base of the Black Mountain Range in Western North Carolina. We can see the majority of Woody Ridge from their view. It is beautiful to look up at the range while it seemingly rises 3,000 vertical feet from the valley floor. Their porch captures panoramic views of this range from Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi, along the ridge 8.5 miles to Celo Knob. I share this because it is breathtaking just looking from their porch at the view. I could be completely content looking from their perspective. However, often in life, we need a new perspective. As I made my way up the ridge I could see things I couldn't from the bottom. The sun was beginning to rise, the fog was forming in the valley below. Views Change. If I was to stay in the valley, I might only see fog. If I climb out of the fog I can see more clearly. How often in life do I just sit in my less than desirable view and wish my outcomes would change. If I want my view to change, I have to be willing to put in the work.
Pace Matters. I started off with an ambitious pace hoping to run most of the uphill. After only 4 and a half minutes I had to stop running and begin hiking. Pace is so important. If I were to continue to run at the pace I was going I would have never made it. on the contrary, if I was to slow down too much I would never have seen the sunrise. Where in life am I running too fast? Where in life do I need to pick up the pace?
"You call that Fun?" I have heard this quote many times. I'm not advocating for everyone to hike woody ridge. However, I am recognizing there is something vitally important in this experience. For me to be at my best doing things like this is critical for my mental, physical, and spiritual health. What are you doing to live life to its fullest? I loved the planning process, it gave me life. During the uphill, while my heart was beating in my chest, it gave me life. Since this experience, I have been longing for the next time I adventure. I took away so much from this brief hike. It energizes me to do things like this and I want to be at my best in the daily grind so I can continue to do things like this. What is it that will make you live the most full life? What is it that makes your soul come alive? What's holding you back from being at your best?
What you Carry is Vital for Success. There were two pieces of gear that stuck out to me. One was hindering me, one was enhancing my experience. The piece of gear that continued to be a thorn in my side was a hydration vest. Don't get me wrong, hydration can be life or death. My Issue with the vest was that it had a slow leak. After about ten minutes I began to feel the water on my lower back. I didn't know if it was sweat or a leak. As I continued to hike the water continued to leak and continued to soak my shirt. I was losing a vital resource, it was making me uncomfortable, and it was occupying my mind. About 2/3 of the way up I finally had to take it off. I took a big drink of water and set the pack on the trail to come and get on the way back. The other piece of gear that I loved having was trekking poles. These are like ski poles that allow me to have multiple points of contact on the ground while I'm traversing difficult terrain. It also allows my arms to help lift me and take some of the shocks on the way down. I say all of this to say, what you carry with you is vital to your success. Many of us are going through life with improper gear. Some of it we need to get rid of, some of it we need to get, and some of it we need to be thankful for. I'm not thinking of hiking with this application but am thinking more about life. What is keeping you from getting what you need to tackle some mountains? What are you carrying around that you need to get rid of? What you carry is vital to your success.
There are no shortcuts. There are also no somedays. Life is Hard. Hard work is required to have greater views. One day your life will flash before your eyes, make it worth watching. Quit making excuses and start taking steps.
Humility. As I mentioned above this hike was humbling for me. It taught me a lot. It also taught me I wasn't as strong as I thought I was. Are you willing to learn? Are you willing to be taught? Can you admit when you are humbled?
Here is a video of the sun beginning to rise.
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