Recently, my friend introduced me to a new colleague who likes to go hiking.
The new guy asked me, “Oh, have you been up Grandeur Peak?”
“Yes,” I said, “That’s a good one.”
Then he said, to my surprise, “How long does it take you to get to the top?”
My first inclination (which I should have followed, but I was trying to be “nice”) was to say, “Who cares?”
Because, really, who cares?
Instead, I made a ballpark estimate. I said, “I’m not sure… An hour and a half?”
He quickly snapped, “No way. I was hiking pretty quickly and it took me much longer.”
WHAT, DUDE? SERIOUSLY???
Most people I work with know that I’m the outdoorsy type that does it for the fun and not for the time. I’ve been long distance running for years and rarely time myself. I get outside for mental health and natural beauty.
There are lots of people who play numbers games. To me, that has never been fun.
I have a hard time with the timing stuff.
And yet, was this a CHALLENGE? It was a swift “no way.” Did he think I couldn’t do it?
Later in the week, I was talking to a very sporty coworker and I told him about the exchange. I asked him how long it took him to get to the top of Grandeur Peak. He said I was about right with the hour and a half.
And yet, could I really compare myself to my cylocross champion coworker’s estimate? Had it really only taken me an hour and a half? Was my internal gauge off?
They say curiosity killed the cat.
Now I had to go climb Grandeur Peak… preferably in 1:30.
The hike is about 3 miles to the top and gains about 2,300 feet of elevation. There’s a little approach road that tacks on another half a mile in the winter, and I knew my colleague had started from the road, so I did too.
As I started the hike with Blue padding alongside, I told myself to just be chill. Just go at your normal pace. Don’t look at the time. Wait until the top.
Secretly, I imagined myself being able to say, “Oh yeah, hour and a half no problem. Leisurely pace. Lots of pictures.”
And yet, I had to remind myself the whole time not to speed up or run. I did stop a few times to take pictures and lower my heart rate, but I waged a real mental battle:
What are you doing, Georgi? This is not important. Just go slow. Are you looking around you? Are you enjoying yourself? Are you breathing easy? This guy’s opinion doesn’t matter at all. Who cares? Why do you even care? You shouldn’t even look at the time at the top. Challenge yourself. Don’t care about this.
And then, halfway up the hike, I called a truce. I kept it real.
It’s ok, Georgi. This is part of your personality. Sometimes you can be competitive and you like to win. You want to prove you can do it. Just own it. In a way, you think this is great fun.
Once I admitted that to myself, I laughed and smiled and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the climb, despite worsening weather.
Climbing up through the fog, I found myself finally standing at the top of Grandeur Peak.
I couldn’t see any beautiful view. I couldn’t see past ten feet in front of me, but I could see the time:
Then, crashing in out of nowhere, a skinny, sopping wet man in shorts burst out of the fog running and hyperventilating loudly. He frantically clicked buttons on his watch.
I laughed and asked, “Are you happy with your time?”
He laboriously answered, “It’s so hard to get up the west face in under an hour!” and then he doubled over and started dry heaving, dramatically ending our conversation.
(By the way, the “west face” is another route up Grandeur Peak that is 1,000 feet steeper.)
And so, my friends, the story ends with Blue and I walking away, laughing at the universe’s awesome sense of humor.
Beautiful reader: What is going to happen if someone challenges you? What will you do if someone says they doubt your ability? Will you even care? Will you rise to the challenge? Will you try? Will you fail? Will you beat yourself up? Will you laugh? Will you enjoy it? Will it even matter? Will it EVER END?
Hey, gorgeous, I love you. I don’t care what you do with your life. Just please, have fun with it. It’s all funny.
Then again… How long does it take you to get to the top of Grandeur Peak? 😉