My son’s Boy Scout Troop here in Roswell has a great annual tradition of hiking Blood Mountain on the first Saturday of every year, regardless of the weather. The first year my son and I went with the troop, it was about 38 degrees and pouring down rain. The next time, we wore shorts! This past Saturday, it was crystal clear and 17° when we hit the trail at 10:30am. Oh, the things you can learn on a day hike.
The First Step
Everyone who learned that my son and I were going on this hike said we were nuts. It was all I could do to convince my son (and partially myself) that it would be fun and we’d be glad we did it. Standing in the parking lot at the trail head, it was unbearably cold, but we were dressed for it, layer upon layer upon layer. Our troop had gathered 13 adults, 19 scouts, and one dog for this hike, and we had nothing to do but stand around and wait until everyone arrived. Once we were ready, everyone forgot about the cold as we took those first stiff, frigid steps on the trail.
Just about everything in life requires taking a first step, no matter how cold it is, how miserable you are, or how much you don’t want to be there. Take that first step. You’ll be glad you did.
Shedding the Unnecessary
Just over halfway up the climb, despite the fact that it was still less than 20°, we were all shedding unnecessary layers of clothing. We were sweating. We had become acclimated to our environment. We were used to the cold temperatures.
How many times have you started something new, thinking you were all prepared with everything you might need, only to realize that you really didn’t need all of those things you started out with? On any new venture, you bring along things you think you’ll need, but you end up not needing them halfway through the journey. Don’t be afraid to shed the dead weight, the unnecessary stuff.
Don’t Stay There!
At the top of the mountain, we all gave a celebratory fist bump, headed to the top rock for a picture, and found a sunny spot for lunch. It was beautiful. For a while. But we stayed to long, and next thing you know, we were all freezing again. We had sweat and then stopped, letting everything that was warm get cold and everything that was loose get stiffened up again.
When you reach your goal, keep going! Don’t stay there. Goals are meant to be achieved and then conquered.
The reason we got cold is because we settled in and stopped moving. One of the greatest assets in life, business, sports, etc., is momentum. When you stop moving, you lose momentum. And you get cold and stiff and lose your motivation for continuing the quest. In this case, heading down Blood Mountain was much more difficult than going up, because the knees got all stiff and the ears, fingers, and toes got all cold.
My son did not want to hike Blood Mountain, but he knew he didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Hiking Blood Mountain on the first Saturday of the year is a Troop tradition, and has been for the last 20 years, long before we ever joined the troop. We were going, regardless of the weather. We did it. We hiked up and back down, and the temperature never got over 20°. And it was awesome.
Afterwards, my wife asked my son if he had fun. “Yeah! It was great!”
Sometimes it’s tough to keep up traditions. Last year, we couldn’t get to Blood Mountain because of ice all over the roads. We had every intention of doing the hike, but we didn’t. This year, we returned with 32 people. Traditions are important because they bring people together, no matter where they are, and traditions bring a sense of normalcy.