‘C’mon, we’re almost there! Just ten more steps. ‘
As the frigid wind blew against my face, my nose and ears went numb. My legs and arms were convulsing. Every step felt like thousands of needles were piercing into my legs. I couldn’t take it. My dark grey leggings, tan sweater, and black knee high boots argued with the calm neutrality of nature in the snow. In that moment, I regretted not checking the weather reports. I “rationally” assumed that the temperature would not drop below the twenties.
Sure enough, the bone-chilling breeze and oyster-white roads confirmed the weather dropped to five degrees Fahrenheit. It felt like I was in an arctic tundra.
It was Martin Luther King weekend and my parents decided to take a trip to Jackson hole, Wyoming. On our first night, we mainly walked around the “Town Square which features arches made of shed antlers from the nearby National Elk Refuge (ADM 2020),” giving the otherwise modern city: an antique feeling that was foreign and unconventional to me.
As we were glancing around, my father pointed to a massive ad for snowmobiling beside a near-by McDonalds. The following morning, my parents and I got dressed and prepared to take on the freshly fallen powder. When we arrived too the snowmobile company: we were informed that the Summit Skyride that takes you to the top of the mountain, where you rent the snowmobiles, was under maintenance and the only way up was by hiking it. Without giving it another moment to register what we were about to get ourselves into, we paid the parking and gathered up a few water bottles to stay hydrated as we hiked up.
The hike starts out from a parking lot next to a highly-traveled road. The trail was amidst the woods that seclude one from the rest of the world. Where there are no roads, buildings, or any type of infrastructure. I’m in my own thoughts with just nature in sight, and only nature. At first nature has to adjust to my presence. The squirrels scatter away as I walk towards them, and scurry up atop the trees. The birds silence their chirping simultaneously and tilt their heads at a 180-degree angle to analyze what kind of animal we might be. Nature is hiding and watching, as an outsider is near, but it isn’t long before Nature continues what it was doing. Now I am accepted by Nature and can continue on my journey. For the duration of the hike: I become one with nature. Following a snowy path, that one can vaguely distinguish the bright yellow marks that are met to lead one through the wild, and finally to the destination, the top of the mountain.
On my continuation of the hike, Nature presents me with a number of pleasures and I devour it all as I make my way slowly up the mountain. Taking it one step at a time, to enjoy the birds forming a band together, meshing their chirps with distinguishing pitches. As I trek, I allow this new form of music to consume me. The vast amount of trees provides me with a variety of different scents. The scents seem to mix together, giving a fresh air that makes it feel as if breathing is easier; which is ironic being that both my mother and I suffer severely from asthma. It always feels like our lungs are getting squeezed, punctured, and punched. It is when I got to the larger boulders that I knew I was getting closer and closer to the top. To keep up with my father, I tried to increase my pace because I didn’t want to be the last one up. But it didn’t last. Climbing up the slippery rocks gives a bit of an exercise, but not an excruciating one. Once I got to the end of the tree line I knew that I was there, but I didn’t want to rush because I wanted to experience every bit of Nature as possible.
At the top of the mountain the reward is spectacular. My jaw clung to the ground. I didn’t even feel the pain of blisters or the dry throat. All my attention was focused on the incredible view that makes you feel like you are on top of the world. The world stretched for miles and miles. It is almost as if I am everywhere at once. You could see the thousands of frozen lakes and rivers blending in with the white scenery of the snow. The sky was the color of the sea on a sunny yet cold day. Giant clouds were rushing past me like ships on the ocean. The sun was so bright you could barely look at it. “I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I’m sure glad I made it!” – I told my parents filling my lungs with fresh air. “It was totally worth it!”
Yet, my body ended up getting the best of me. In the beautiful moment, my body was overwhelmed and sunk into a nearby rock. My lungs felt like they were about to explode. I think you could hear my heavy breathing from the bottom of the mountain. My lips were dried. My nose was running. My body was going through a frozen hell. But in that moment, nothing mattered. The panoramic view made me feel invincible. Forgetting all about the snowmobile I descended the mountain carrying with me a feeling of satisfaction like no other. The hike although was a pain was also exhilarating, rewarding and a life changing experience.