"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do" – Brene Brown
Last weekend, 6 of us set out on a crazy adventure to hike Mt LeConte in the Smoky Mountain National Park. We hiked around 25 miles in about 36 hours and spent the night in a rustic lodge at the top. No road access, no electricity, no running water, just you on top of the world!
The hike up was beautiful and stunning. Gorgeous views you could stare at for days. The hike was about 5.5 miles to the lodge and about at 2500 elevation gain. The hike had a few narrow cliffs where cables had been installed to hold as you cross. It was a stunning experience to be holding on by your right hand and just staring off into beauty to the left.
After we reached the lodge and checked in we decided to explore a bit. We hiked up to the summit, Cliff Tops, to explore. To sit at the summit and look out over the mountains is such a literal breath of fresh air. Cut off from society, you are able to just breathe in the beauty that we so often take for granted. It was actually drizzling a little bit at that time but I didn’t care one bit. I was completely awe struck by the moment and the beauty. For me, I was able to breathe God in,to see his beauty, and feel inspired to do more. There were moments of total peace and comfort. I stared into the horizon and thought about Nate, my family, and also how grateful I am that I’m not afraid to really live and love this life. As I gazed at the beauty that surrounded me the entire day I realized that this life is pretty amazing no matter our circumstances.
After losing Nate, one of my biggest fears for myself and my family is that we’d be scared. That life, itself, would frighten us and leave us paralyzed by the fears. I was scared that I wouldn’t really want to “live” life anymore for fear that something bad might happen to us. We have not let fear stop us. We keep moving. We keep move forward. We tackle new days and we tackle new challenges. Sitting at the summit of this hike really gave me some clarity to that. I am so grateful that God continues to give us strength not to just merely exist in this world but to really LIVE it, LOVE it, and EXPERIENCE it. That doesn’t mean we don’t miss Nate every second of every day. It means we make a choice each day to embrace life.
In the days before the hike we decided we would all wear our Team Nate and Go Out Be Great shirts. This was not a team organized event but something we knew was pushing each of us beyond our limits and inspiring greatness in each of us.It’s amazing when you put 6 people in the same shirts the questions it sparked. We crossed other hikers that would encourage us by chanting as we passed “Go Out Be Great”, people who would ask “Whose Nate?”, we ran into so many people that asked us about Team Nate and the foundation. The hike proved inspiring in many ways! Not only did we reach the summit, we tackled fears, and we challenged ourselves, but we were also able to share Nate and the foundation to so many people!
Go Out. Be Great.