Feet Keep Moving (Issue 685)

In which we are reminded at mid-year to focus on knocking down the short term objectives in front of us on our way to the year end goal.

We chose the most direct route to the Mount Monadnock summit – two hours, two miles, 1700 feet up –  like a 200 story building.

We easily traversed the first mile, a gravel road rising 500 feet to the site of the Halfway House Hotel (burned to the ground in 1954). Then, in the words of another hiker, we started the “straight rocky climb up the spiritless White Arrow trail.”

White Arrow climbs ~1,100  feet in about a mile, a series of moderate to steep boulder and rock strewn pitches, kind of like climbing uneven stairs for an hour, stepping on or slipping over children’s toys. Several times, I had to stop for a minute or two to catch my breath.

And then, about 300 feet below the top we broke through the tree line and looked up.  The summit!

We paused. Feeling jelly in my legs,  I gazed ahead at  remaining 30 minutes of the climb –  boulders and slabs  with several pitches exceeding 45 degrees, the last bit almost vertical.

Another 30 minutes. I shook my head in disbelief.

“Ready,” my companion asked?

I shook my head again, legs quivering.

Sometimes, words come when you most need them. I remembered  Shomo Morita’s words,  “When running up hill, it is alright to give up as many times as you wish as long as your feet keep moving.”

“I quit,” I announced, slowly straightening up… and then suggested, “I can make it to that rock.” I pointed, about ten yards up.

Perched then ten yards up,  I looked at the summit again, swaying slightly on my now VERY  jellied legs, and quit once more.

“To that ledge over there,” my companion asked?


“Don’t look up again until we reach the top,” she advised. “Climb the rock in front of you…”

We finished the climb in just short of the planned two hours. The view from the summit was spectacular.



4 Responses to Feet Keep Moving (Issue 685)

  1. John Hoskins says:

    “Don’t look up again until we reach the top,” she advised. “Climb the rock in front of you…”

    Your companion nailed it!

  2. Lew Mutty says:

    I could feel those jellied legs, fresh in my mind the recent avalanches at Rainier and Everest.
    Appreciate short term goals are essential elements to accomplishment of goals “for the year”.
    Good read, good message!

  3. Dick Kazan says:

    Hi Nick, This is a very nice story, one in which you placed all of us readers out there with you and your hiking companion climbing that mountain.

    I especially liked your description of how slippery one segment was in comparing it to slipping on or over children’s play toys and your Shomo Morita quote, which made me smile at its inherent wisdom.

    Congratulation in how you overcame adversity to triumph.

  4. Nick Miller says:

    Thanks for your comments, John, Dick, and Lew! The rock climbing experience translated events that typically happen in our heads into something very tangible. A rock. Climb this rock. Can’t get to the next rock until you climb this rock. Only this rock matters. So, I know that it’s better to have a broader perspective and a planned route. However, when the action happens, it’s one rock at a time. Fascinating how that focuses my mind!

    Thanks for reading and for your comments.

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