"To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
In case you missed the 1st part of this story, you can read how we started this adventure in Part 1. Go here
We had been warned about altitude sickness…nausea, headaches, dizziness. The only way to get rid of it we were told was to come down off the mountain. My head was starting to bother me now. More Advil and more water. We kept going.
Indomitable. Unable to subdue or defeat. It was powerful to say these words to myself as I heaved my left leg up unto a huge rock.
In-dom-i-table. I WILL NOT be defeated by this damn mountain.
I looked at my watch and said to Thom on one of our rests. “we’re supposed to be a lot further up by 12:00. It’s 11:00 now."
We'd been climbing for 6 hours straight. I remembered that the tour guide had said that if we didn't make it to station 8 by 12:00, then we had to come back down. We were still at station 7. I wasn't even sure how many damn stations there were.
In my mind, I thought that we had to get to the station that was still quite aways away by 12:00 but the bus wasn’t leaving until 7:00 pm …so what was the big deal? I didn't think it would take that long to come down off the mountain, what the hell was he talking about?
Thom was slowing down. I kept going to the next level ahead of him to get my stamp. I wanted to stop and lay down but we had been warned not to do that. The guide had said, don’t do that because you won’t want to get back up.
Rubbish, I thought, I’m sitting down anyway. I got someone to take my photo before I collapsed. I waited for Thom and was happy to see him cross under the Torri and up to another station and rest point.
By now we had 8 stamps, one from each station. I felt proud. It was noon. We called Mark, the tour guide, as directed. “Hey, Mark, we’re at 7.6."
I felt the wave of disappointment when I heard Mark say, “you need to start coming back down, "you don’t have enough time to get to the top.”
Thom said, “why don’t you go on ahead and we’ll meet up at the bottom? You still have time; you can make it.” I said no. He pleaded with me.
For a second, I thought, well maybe, I could make it up to the top. We’re so close. I can see it from here.
I heard later that it was straight up from where we were. The last stations were grueling. It would have taken 3 hours from that point.
Thom would have never left me, that’s for sure. I quelled my desire to race to the top and prepared mentally for the long trip back down.
I learned a very important lesson that day. It’s not always about the individual. It’s about the team, us, as a couple, the partnership. And he was my team, my rock, and the reason I was even there. And I discovered it isn't about the destination either. It's about the journey.
We climbed up to one more station…Station 8.
The last steps up to 8 were murderous. Even this last section was impossible. But I could see the small hut, the station, and repeated “indomitable” one more time to myself. I was not going to be defeated. Stubbornly I said to myself ... “I will not be subdued."
While waiting for my last stamp, I met two women who were trying to get down, they were going no further. One was in tears…”I just want to go home, she cried.” She looked exhausted.
Along the way it was fascinating to watch the variety of people climbing. I saw a couple of Japanese men downing beers as they climbed. Thom saw a man smoking. Some people were obese, others fit. What a range of people that were making this trek.
There were even young children climbing with their parents. Our pregnant friend I found out later made it all the way to the top and back down.
Thom and I sat and rested before we started the climb back down. We were in wonderment about the fact that we were over 10,662 feet up on a mountain, in a foreign country, gazing out above the clouds. What had we just done?
I had promised myself that I would do a headstand on the top of Mt. Fuji. I decided this would be the closest I would get so, above the clouds, with people around everywhere, I lifted my heavy boots up over my head, wondering if I could actually pull it off. It was surreal to be upside down looking out on top of the world.
No one seemed to notice there was a crazy lady standing on her head. Everyone was just trying to survive I think.
The trip back down was hard. The incline was insane. But it was easier than going up although nothing about it was easy. I kept thinking I could fall flat on my face it was so steep. We constantly repeated short switchbacks back and forth.
After hours of turning back and forth, we made it to the bottom. We were beyond exhausted but incredibly proud of ourselves. It was all I could do to hold my head up.
Five years later I’m still processing this phenomenal experience. I learned so much about myself and what I could do. Most of all I learned it’s not about the destination, but the journey.
If you read the first part of this story, you’ll know that I asked what power words you use. I’m listing the ones I used, in case you want to use them, too.
Things to say to yourself when things get hard or you feel like quitting:
"I’m choosing and I alone am choosing to do this."
"Indomitable" – unable to be defeated or subdued
"If you think you can, you can."
"I have strong legs and a good heart."
"Count to 10 and say yes, yes, I can."
"Find a way"
Spell out loud or silently everyone in your family’s names
And my very favorite – think of someone who isn’t able to do what you can do and think of yourself doing it for them and send them strength and courage…whatever they need.
Choose your own power words and write them in your journal so that you’ll remember.
Share with us what you use. Leave a comment below or reply to me at [email protected] I want to know!
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P.S. Needless to say I would never, ever share your info with anyone!