They were your normal middle aged America couple; the ones that asked if they could share our table at Glacier Point. She was clean, dressed in typical vacation attire and about 25 lbs overweight. He was pale, and had long ago traded playing a sport for watching sports on TV. As they sat down, I glanced at their trays. They both had a Now with 25% more bag of neon orange Cheetos and jumbo sodas. She had a deli meat-stuffed sub and he had a well-dressed hot dog.
Across from me sat my sister; her hair was windblown except that bit in the front that was sweat plastered to her forehead. She looked and probably smelled, not so fresh. I’m sure I was not any better. We were taking a moment to have a coffee and collect our courage to head back down the mountain the same way we got up – on our feet.
Glacier point is listed as a strenuous hike in the Yosemite literature because of the length and the gain in altitude. Our hike was 11 miles round trip with a gain (and then loss) of 3000 ft. As real hikers go it’s probably more intermediate than strenuous. But we’re not real hikers yet. The summit of Glacier Point is unique because it is possible to get there via car, tour bus or on foot. On the day we climbed we saw maybe 30 hikers and 300 that arrived by motor vehicle. A good portion of the hikers ride up and hike down.
Not us. We left open the possibility if we made it up and felt we couldn’t get down we would hitch a ride but we were determined “not to cheat” if at all possible.
Which leads us back to our coffee (and their lunch) with the “Cheetos Lovers”. In a moment of altitude-induced clarity I realized, I have been them. Standing on the sidelines watching others live. Having my entertainment delivered with a hotdog and a coke. The sad thing is I never really decided on this less active lifestyle, I just kind of slipped into what everyone else was doing. I would bet this is the way most people end up on the bus.
In recent years, I’ve tried to do more and watch less and sometimes I’ve even succeeded. I am currently not a tour bus riding Cheetos lover, but neither am I one of the slim and fit athletes (some old, some young) we watched glide up the trail. Nope, for sure. I stopped a more than a few times to allow my heart rate to slow to something short of the imminent heart attack zone. But I’m working on it.
I’m going to hold on to the moment of clarity and re-ask myself frequently to commit. It’s all about deciding who you want to be. For me, right now I want to be an active participant. How about you?