I believe that this life is not made up of just the “good”, but in order for us to live a life much richer we need to experience and embrace hardships. We need to be hard-pressed and challenged, so when our lives are filled with enjoyment we can have a complete understanding of how “good” these precious moments truly are. Without persevering through adversity one can’t have a complete grasp of self identity. How can you know who you are when you have never been pushed to show your true colors? Without that pressure you are living a life that is a half painted masterpiece.
Yesterday’s hike presented us with such a challenge, and through it we unlocked an aspect of our friendship we hadn’t yet found the key to. We started off hiking Mt. Waumbek, a 7.2 mile hike, before the sun’s warmth had a chance to grace our land. Although the early start left me a little bogged, Cullen didn’t seem to be influenced at all. His pace ensured mine did not falter. As we reached the summit, the air still filled with the mornings haze, we quickly shared a snack and then we were off. Both our hike up and descent went quicker than I had originally thought. By 9:15 am we were back at the car restocking for our second hike of the day up Wildcat Mountain; a hike that would open my eyes.
Between the 2:30am early wake and the trek up Waumbek, my body’s strength depleted quicker than I had anticipated. Strangely enough I found myself struggling up the fair elevation gain Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail had to offer, which would only give way to the remorseless Wildcat Ridge Trail. With each step I felt my body grow weaker.
I did my best to stay fueled up by continuously snacking on carbs and fatty foods and drinking water, but nothing did the trick. Due to the snow and cold, Cullen has to keep moving in order to regulate normal body temperature. Min Pins do not take to the cold like other thicker furred breeds. This means my rests are far and few. I only get to stop for a moment or two, just long enough to catch my breath.
Up until the Wildcat Ridge Trail junction the track was packed down well from previous folks snowshoeing. Their prints left us with a well groomed trail to hike. However, from the very start of Wildcat Ridge Trail it was a completely different story. We were left to follow one set of boot prints and, ironically, one set of paw prints. These paw prints being obviously much larger than Cullen’s.
The deep and air-soft white powder drained me rapidly. The snow caved on every step, which on such a dramatic incline made it almost impossible. I felt my body’s strength bottom out, and I was no longer continuing with the use of muscle energy. I found myself running off the will to succeed. The need to accomplish kept one foot in front of the other. However, in such a challenge that same will and need is not always enough. When every step gets harder than the last and every thought is of quitting, you need more. Cullen’s friendship and determination fulfilled that need.
He would continuously turn back to check in on me. Without the need of verbal communication his eyes told me everything I needed. That’s the beauty of friendship. When one is weak the other is strong, and will lead you through privation, all without having to speak one word. The purity in the eyes can give you all the motivation and strength needed to overcome. For that is exactly what he had done on the mountain. That day his fortitude would lead me over 6 peaks (2 being 4k), through 18miles, and 10 hours of hiking.
I know Cullen’s physical strength will diminish, and his time on this planet will someday come to an end, but the lessons he has taught will last well beyond my days.
Life isn’t meant to be easy. We all must experience adversity, and at times you find each step getting harder than the last, but trust that a true friend will be there by your side. This friend will push you and provide you with the energy and strength your body lacks. Today’s pain shines new light on tomorrow’s pleasures, and helps define who we are. This pain will help reveal what is truly important in life. Never let these moments pass by, but grasp them with both hands and hold tight; For they are what makes us who we are.
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Thanks for trailing Cullen’s Travels!