The hardest thing I have ever done was learning to walk again after becoming paralyzed December 1999.

Facebook reminded me in memories that I experienced a similar challenge.

July 2016 I embarked on another journey while on my quest to complete 50 states. I signed up for the Alaskan Running Cruise. I had no idea what to expect. It was definitely an all terrain adventure.

They used my pic in advertisements

I signed up for the Alaskan Running Cruise and this was an optional activity. I didn’t plan for the changes of terrain. I should have had hiking boots. However, trail running shoes were better than wearing sandals or a pair of tennis. I literally was not prepared. We started off on concrete. No the dog did not join. I just thought his shoes were cute.

There were cool things to see. I just figured there would be a dirt trail all the way up.

It started mild and I was ready to embark on this journey to the summit of this mountain or at least that’s what I thought. I had no idea what obstacles I would face along the way.

Keyword in the sentence was mountain. I do not think I truly understood the keyword.

There were some mountains stairs and that was fun, but the rocks.

Oh dear God you allowed me to see beauty, while praying without ceasing, you know I was afraid for my life!

As the trail went from dirt to slippery rocks to grass and back again I was paralyzed by fear. My heart rate increased, my breathing changed. I looked up at the person in front of me and said to myself, ” If he can do it so can do it too”. I was terrified when I saw a guy almost slide off the cliff behind me. At that moment I realized there were no safety nets. I did not realize there would be nothing to break our fall. I did not realize that I would be able to look down and see trees and rocks miles down, I definitely did not want that to break my fall. Where are our picks and rope like in the movies?

I became more frightened as I grabbed for a rock and it shifted. It was frightening not having a secure place to plant your feet. I was the last one up to the summit and the last one down. My mobility impairment played a small part in that. My fear of dying on the first day of my trip played the rest.

There were places where I just said nope, not doing it; I am not walking here. I decided to get on my hands and knees and crawl in certain places.

It was a “By Any Means Necessary” kind of hike. I used everything I had to get it done. I refused to stop I wanted to push my limits. I wanted to see how far I could go. I was not sure I could make it to the top, but I was sure going to try. It was definitely a challenge.

There were places were I could walk with ease then places that made me get down on my hands and knees.

My Fifty States friends were having some difficulty too, but I couldn’t tell.

I remember thinking I am near the summit, I am really doing this.

With Coach Jenny Hatfield

I learned something that day, something that I should have realized just by looking back on my life. I learned that in every success there is struggle. You must face the obstacles.

There are beautiful moments along your journey and you must take the time to see it. The struggle is real and sometimes down right disappointing. If you keep at it or maybe tackle it from a different angle you will find your way to the top.

I am on top of the world, yaye!

It was glorious at the top, but now I couldn’t help but think how in the world do I get down. The answer is always the same, “One step at a time”.

A young guide from Austin Texas who went to school at Texas State University named Steve helped me down the side of the mountain through the rocks. It did not bother him one bit that I moved slow, laughed alot, talked alot or sat on my butt and scooted down the mountain when I felt as though I could not walk.

As we traveled down through rough terrain I kept hearing I don’t want this night to end by Luke Bryan in my head. I told the guide that and he fired up Luke Bryan on Spotify. We sang Luke Bryan songs on the way down.

I took photos when I could and took in the sights and sounds. Unlike a few I managed not to leave any skin or blood up or down the mountain side. It was raining so it was slick and muddy. I kept sitting on my behind and scooting down the hill. My 2016 Boston backpack was filthy, but it shared in this grand memory. Flat Top Mountain is history! You never know what you can or can not do if you do not try. I encourage you to leave your comfort zone.Try something new!

I read the rating of Flat Top after I finished the climb. That definitely was not the brightest thing I have done.

Reading is fundamental that should have occurred before I tackled the feat and as a part of the preparation stage. I learned it was rated as a moderate level hike. I considered it severe as this was my first hike. I often forget the importance of having two funtioning hands and arms. Trying to reach for rocks and your hand refusing to open. Trying to let go of a rock, but your hand does not release. I never know when it is going to work, my hand truly has a mind of its own.

At the end of the cruise as the dinner I recieved the John Bingham Penguin Inspiration Award.

He is known as “the Penguin” for his back-of-the-pack speed, he was overweight, uninspired, and saddled with a pack-and-a-half-a-day smoking habit he said he found himself in a middle-age slump we he discovered running it changed his life forever. He spent 18 years as a Runner’s World columnist and the voice of the Rock n Roll Marathon series. On the last night of the cruise I was presented with the 2016 Penguin Inspiration Award, by his wife Coach Jenny Hadfield.

I did the impossible and I hiked up a mountain. I loved it!

Let me know in the comments below what new things you have tried and how you felt about. What obstacles are in your way of success?

2 Replies to “I’m On Top of the World ‘Ey”

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