I discovered the will inside me as I looked at that mountain ahead, and laughed: Filthy, Bloody, Starving—I laughed.
It may seem odd to enjoy a situation such as this. Then again, I always have appreciated learning. And I definitely gain a plethora of new knowledge during this four day survival trip.
I learn that it’s hard to appreciate what you have until it’s gone: I realize how spectacular the food in my fridge is as I sit searching every vertebrae of a ground squirrel I snared for a morsel more of meat. I begin recognizing the value of people and companionship while spending a night truly alone and without provisions in the wilderness. And I finally experience true exhaustion with over 2,000 vertical feet to traverse in front of me and only four days of near starvation to carry my legs onwards.
No one mentioned a mountain—in my head Day Four would be spent sitting and bearing through the final hours of hunger. Even when I was told of the hike I pictured a mild detour. This…this is something else.
But I stand at the base of that mountain and smile, not because the dirt road ahead of me is easy—I smile because it’s hard. Accomplishing the mundane is nothing, conquering impossibility is where self-fulfillment lies: the steeper and taller the mountain before me, the higher I can climb on its slopes.
So I pick up the last of my water, and take my first steps. –Sam Bray


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