The Pay-Off

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain

     It was my birthday and the day had been great.  The last activity planned was a hike up Stone Mountain.  I’d never hiked this large granite rock so when my hiking group decided this was the location for our meeting I jumped at the chance.  The temperature was in the mid-seventies and sunshine filled the sky.  Conditions could not have been more perfect and after the meet and greet, we headed up the 1,700 feet to its top.  Elevation hikes are my least favorite hikes and I knew this would be a challenge. Our pilgrimage was slow and steady, but we all reached our first rest stop. The sweat beads had already formed on my forehead and I was out of breath, but the organizer’s enthusiasm encouraged us onward.  The question everyone asked, “How much farther do we have to go?”  And the answer I’d come to dread while hiking, “Not that much farther.”  With our rest period over with, we made the final push to get to the top.  Each step was labored and my fear of falling backwards grew.  I prayed the treads on my hiking boots would keep my feet from slipping.  I could see the top, but it was still a ways off.  I stopped momentarily to catch my breath.  I had come too far to give up now and if I pushed myself, I would reach the top.  One by one we reached the summit.  I turned around and took in the view.  I could see for miles in each direction and the view was stunning.  The greenery of the trees tops, the deep blue horizon and the skyline made the climb worth it.  As the sun began to set, bands of yellow, orange and black signaled dusk was here.  To the east a full moon had begun its climb and for several moments, you could see the sun setting in the west and the moon rising to the east.  I’d forgotten about the sweat beads and my fear of falling. The view had made the struggle irrelevant. Our hike leader made a comment that summed up the whole experience.  He said, “If you could endure the journey of the hike, the pay-off is well worth it.”  Indeed it was.

Sunset at Stone Mountain

Sunset at Stone Mountain

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