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Flattop Mountain in Alaska's Chugach State Park

“Wait, what? You mean there is no clear path?"

A trail labeled as difficult didn’t scare me.
A trail labeled as difficult didn’t scare me.

I gripped my hiking sticks, took a deep breath, and began to climb up a steep rocky mountain. I glanced up to see the top of the mountain, “That’s where I need to get to."  My eyes traced down the mountain to land on a field of hundreds of sharp rocks with no clear path in sight. Those rocks were the only thing that stood between me and completing this hike. I turned back only to see more rocks and a steep slope. In an instant, I became paralyzed with fear, “I won’t make it up this mountain, there is no clear path. I’m going to slip and fall down this mountain.”

My husband Steven and I were finally in Alaska, a place that we had talked about visiting for over nine years and we finally made it. It was day 6 out of our 8-day trip and we decided to go on a hike in Chugach State Park. During the summer months, Alaska experiences extremely long hours of daylight and even at 2 am it will still be light outside. We took advantage of this opportunity and made our way to Chugach at 8:30 pm to hike a popular trail called Flattop Mountain. Flattop Mountain is a 2.8-mile difficult trail with about 1,325 ft of elevation gain. I should probably mention that I am not a beginner hiker, but not an advanced hiker either, so a trail labeled as difficult didn’t scare me.

“Yes! We are almost there, this has been a great hike.”

In the parking lot, I laced up my hiking boots, grabbed my backpack, and placed my water bottle inside. I grabbed my hiking sticks. The trail started pretty flat, “Right, left, right, left.” I stopped at different moments to take in the ocean and snow-covered peaks.

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After 20 minutes, I was understanding why the trail was labeled “difficult.” I took a wide step forward, using the wood steps that were built by the park rangers to assist hikers with the steep parts of the trail. With each step I  gained more elevation. We got to a little flat section of the trail, “Whew, time for a quick break.” Within less than a few minutes we were back at it.

We made it to a clearing and saw other hikers starting back down the trail. I looked up at the mountain. “We are almost there, this has been a great hike." I glanced at the steep mountain with those sharp rocks and scanned from left to right looking for the trail. I looked for wood steps like we saw earlier. They were nowhere in sight. I saw another hiker, “Hey. How do you get to the top of the mountain?” The hiker responded, “You can follow the path that the other hikers have made. It’s kind of hard to see so just take your time climbing up.” “Wait, what? You mean there is no clear path, to get to the top of the mountain?”

Steven said, “Just follow me up. I’ll find the way.” I attached my hiking sticks to my backpack, took a deep breath. I glanced up to see the top of the mountain, “That’s where I need to get to.” Very slowly, I took my first step, and then the second, and then the third. All of a sudden the makeshift trail started to disappear, and the higher I climbed the more terrified I became. “Where am I going?" I could see myself tumbling down this mountain. Tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t climb the rest of the way. I told Steven I had to turn back.

I told Steven I had to turn back.

I made my way back down the mountain, crouched down and practically sliding down the rocks. A thought occurred to me, “How will you ever conquer your fears and accomplish your dreams if you give up when you can’t see the path to get there.” At that moment, I realized that many times in life I have a dream and a goal of what I want to accomplish but I quit, give up, and get scared because I don’t see a path to get there. 

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A trail labeled as difficult didn’t scare me.
A trail labeled as difficult didn’t scare me.

I gripped my hiking sticks, took a deep breath, and began to climb up a steep rocky mountain. I glanced up to see the top of the mountain, “That’s where I need to get to."  My eyes traced down the mountain to land on a field of hundreds of sharp rocks with no clear path in sight. Those rocks were the only thing that stood between me and completing this hike. I turned back only to see more rocks and a steep slope. In an instant, I became paralyzed with fear, “I won’t make it up this mountain, there is no clear path. I’m going to slip and fall down this mountain.”

My husband Steven and I were finally in Alaska, a place that we had talked about visiting for over nine years and we finally made it. It was day 6 out of our 8-day trip and we decided to go on a hike in Chugach State Park. During the summer months, Alaska experiences extremely long hours of daylight and even at 2 am it will still be light outside. We took advantage of this opportunity and made our way to Chugach at 8:30 pm to hike a popular trail called Flattop Mountain. Flattop Mountain is a 2.8-mile difficult trail with about 1,325 ft of elevation gain. I should probably mention that I am not a beginner hiker, but not an advanced hiker either, so a trail labeled as difficult didn’t scare me.

“Yes! We are almost there, this has been a great hike.”

In the parking lot, I laced up my hiking boots, grabbed my backpack, and placed my water bottle inside. I grabbed my hiking sticks. The trail started pretty flat, “Right, left, right, left.” I stopped at different moments to take in the ocean and snow-covered peaks.

Sponsored
Sponsored

After 20 minutes, I was understanding why the trail was labeled “difficult.” I took a wide step forward, using the wood steps that were built by the park rangers to assist hikers with the steep parts of the trail. With each step I  gained more elevation. We got to a little flat section of the trail, “Whew, time for a quick break.” Within less than a few minutes we were back at it.

We made it to a clearing and saw other hikers starting back down the trail. I looked up at the mountain. “We are almost there, this has been a great hike." I glanced at the steep mountain with those sharp rocks and scanned from left to right looking for the trail. I looked for wood steps like we saw earlier. They were nowhere in sight. I saw another hiker, “Hey. How do you get to the top of the mountain?” The hiker responded, “You can follow the path that the other hikers have made. It’s kind of hard to see so just take your time climbing up.” “Wait, what? You mean there is no clear path, to get to the top of the mountain?”

Steven said, “Just follow me up. I’ll find the way.” I attached my hiking sticks to my backpack, took a deep breath. I glanced up to see the top of the mountain, “That’s where I need to get to.” Very slowly, I took my first step, and then the second, and then the third. All of a sudden the makeshift trail started to disappear, and the higher I climbed the more terrified I became. “Where am I going?" I could see myself tumbling down this mountain. Tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t climb the rest of the way. I told Steven I had to turn back.

I told Steven I had to turn back.

I made my way back down the mountain, crouched down and practically sliding down the rocks. A thought occurred to me, “How will you ever conquer your fears and accomplish your dreams if you give up when you can’t see the path to get there.” At that moment, I realized that many times in life I have a dream and a goal of what I want to accomplish but I quit, give up, and get scared because I don’t see a path to get there. 

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