Now, It’s Like This

Now, its like this. Remembering the view from tent on Mt Baker

“View from my tent looking up towards the North Ridge of Mt Baker. Note my toes are blue from nail polish, not from the pounding they received.” ©Elaina Arenz Collection.

Right now, it’s like this. I’m spring cleaning. As I clean, I think about the time I climbed the North Ridge of Mt Baker and what I learned.

On the descent,

the sun cast filtered patterns in front of me. It tricked my eyes as I plodded along. Placing one foot in front of the other, I lost count of my steps and started counting over, again. One, inhale. Two, exhale. Three, inhale. Four, exhale. And on, and on.

My feet were barking, like angry dogs. My toes were especially pissed, they were cramping and it felt like my toes were trying to flee into separate corners of my boots. I’d have given anything to stop and take my boots off––to let my toes be free. 

But stopping wasn’t an option. A glacier is no place to stop and take your boots off and I still had a lot of ground to cover. Before too long the sun would plunge, leaving me in the shadows of the Cascade Mountain range spread out all around me. It was a long way down to our high camp, and longer still to the trailhead. 

My only option was to keep calm, breathe and march on.

I turned my mind back to my breath, focusing on in and out. As a Warrior’s Way Trainer, I knew that I needed to keep my attention in the moment, on the task. The task was to put one foot in front of the other and focus on the quality of my breath. 

In moments of stress, my mind tries to escape from the discomfort. I start wishing, hoping and willing for the situation to be different. But I know, rationally, that wishing and hoping is a waste of energy. I know there’s no escaping the present moment. I kept on, marching down from the summit of Mt Baker.

Now, in the midst of the pandemic,

I know that I have no choice but to take things one day––one step––at a time. Worrying about the future is like succumbing to barking, angry feet and stopping on the glacier. Wishing the current situation was different won’t change anything. All I can do is deal with it the best way I know. I know I need to stay focused on the task and breathe. Right now the task is spring cleaning. You wouldn’t believe how organized my gear room and my closets are!

To reward myself for my spring cleaning efforts, I’m teaching myself how to play the acoustic guitar. My mind commands my fingers to contort themselves into different shapes to play the chords. I strum the strings. My forearm cramps. The guitar twangs sharply––it’s barking at me. I take a deep breath and slowly let it out. I place my fingers on the frets and strum, again. Again and again, until I get it right.

Right now, it’s like this.

4 replies
  1. Mary Taylor
    Mary Taylor says:

    I love this. Yes, we must take it moment by moment. And we all have stories of wanting to stop on the trail, to wish away our discomfort. My most recent lesson was coming down Angel Bright Trail last month with an absurdly overweight load on my back, created by tequila and bad pcking decisions th night before. I wanted to just quit. Sit down and give up. At the end, I was doing the very same thing…counting breaths and steps. Lost 5 toenails to that day. The bright side, is now I don’t have to lose them climbing this summer. I’m ready.

    Reply
    • Elaina Arenz
      Elaina Arenz says:

      Missing toenails! Wow, that’s a blessing in disguise if I ever heard of one! I’d sure miss painting them crazy colors but it would totally be worth it to not feel the pounding!

      Reply
    • Elaina Arenz
      Elaina Arenz says:

      Lorca,
      My other quote to live by is the one you shared with me at Maple Canyon: “You’re not late until you’re late”

      As I’m rushing around town, out one door and stuck in traffic, that saying of yours reminds me to be present. Thank you for that gift:)

      Reply

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