I also didn't realize how tired it would make me.
Lookout Mountain in Montreat, NC has always held a special place in my heart - many climbs up there during Montreat Youth Conferences, a few other climbs for other reasons. But it wasn't just that specific mountain - it was the mountains in general.
Both my Mom and Dad hail from the mountains - Asheville, specifically, where they met in 10th grade homeroom. My brother and I went there numerous times to see grandparents. Funny - all that time there were other things that garnered my attention: the endless treasures of my grandparents' basement, the thanksgiving meal on my grandmother's dining room table, the tubing down the Toe River beside my grandparents' home, and on and on. I was only aware of the mountains peripherally. But they were there.
In later years my parents built a house in the mountains outside Boone. It was here I started paying greater attention to the mountains themselves because, quite honestly, there was much else there to pay attention to. The house was out in the middle of nowhere, and the mountains engulfed it. My brother and I made trails through them, found creeks in them.
All the while, it was running through my blood. It still is.
And even though I hadn't made it up to Lookout in recent years, it was there for me. Enshrined in a song I wrote. Ever-present on my Facebook feed as friends took pictures of themselves proudly at its peak. So when my family prepared to head to Montreat for our church's annual retreat, it was a no-brainer. I laid the vision out to my family over dinner one night, and they accepted. We would climb Lookout Mountain together.
It is not an easy hike - and time had made me forget this important fact. It's a hike up a road before you get to the actual trail, and from there it's a steady incline. An intense 0.6 miles to the top. The last few hundred yards are particularly challenging, and the only thing making your brain push through aching leg muscles and winded lungs are the sounds of familiar voices already at the top and the increased presence of sunlight and blue skies through thinning trees.
My youngest had practically run up there with some church friends. The rest of our family took our time. We all got up there, though, and got the picture to prove it: