“Thank God for those twice weekly yoga classes” is all I can think. It is a nearly straight uphill hike to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Madison Hut, where we’ll spend this first night in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I’m mid-menstruation, at the end of a sinus infection, and have a 27-pound pack on my back. This wasn’t quite the image I had in mind during all of our excited months of planning. One step at a time. I call out to my friends, so far ahead I’ve lost sight of them, grateful yet chagrined when one stops, waits and shifts her pace to mine.
I am aware of every muscle in my legs, hips, and butt. I thought I knew them intimately from my study of anatomy, the hundreds of bodies I’ve massaged, my erotic explorations with adventurous partners. But this has an intimacy and immediacy all its own.
Lift leg. Find footing. Shift weight forward. Bring body up, feel pack shift, breathe. Notice the strength the standing postures have given me — hips empowered from all that rising on one leg into Warrior Three —as well as the thump of my heart, the throb in my head, the heaviness in my uterus.
Up and up, one step at a time, 3500 feet in about 3.5 miles. It is a lesson in humility (but I’m young, I’m strong, I’m limber!). It is a lesson in pure presence and awareness (one slip, one wrong turn of the ankle and yikes). It is a lesson in activating strengths I didn’t know I had.
Finally at the hut, relieved of backpacks, my friends lightly take the last few hundred feet to the summit. I hang back, boots off and feet up, basking in the warmth of my tea, the crisp crunch of an apple. I savor every sip, every bite, every sensation as I await their return. Tomorrow will bring its own unknowable challenges.
Sharon Rosen is a spiritual healer, mindful living mentor and author who helps women learn to dance gracefully with the rhythms of their lives. www.heartofselfcare.com