Val and I are about a mile into our hike, already having gained about 800 feet of elevation. We’re hiking pretty much straight up. You might think I mean hiking up some steep switchbacks. But no, we just hiked up about 1,000 stairs made out of rock along the Emery Path in the Sieur De Mount area of Acadia National Park. It’s a hot humid sunny day. And even though we frequently take breaks to catch our breath and enjoy a patch of shade, we’re hot and sweaty. It's hard work but we’re loving it because we know the secret to being hot and sweaty.
You might think perhaps we choose poorly, not knowing this hike would be as demanding as it’s turning out to be. Oh no, we knew this was going to be a hard, steep, challenging hike. Before hiking, we talked with a ranger about potential routes. She tried to caution us and suggest an easier hike. And then we told her about hiking The Bubble yesterday. About hiking up hiking its steep boulder field, scrambling hand over hand with some minor rock climbing while enveloped in dense fog. We said we wanted to hike straight up. We said we wanted a challenge. And that's when she recommended the Emergy Path to the summit of Dorr Mountain. So here we are hiking straight up the mountain following rock cairns as we hike on the balls of our feet up wide swaths of rock. It’s even harder than hiking up the stairs. And now we’re in full sun. Ugh.
After a bit more wayfinding and refinding via the cairns, we seem to be nearing the summit. We find two hikers lounging on the rock as if they were at the beach. I get it. They’re basking in the glory of the terminus of this challenging hike. We hike another few hundred feet to reach the official summit. We take in the view and a few photos. We find a nearby rock, refueling with a feast of jerky, sandwiches, chips, and pickles. “These pickles are great,” Val says. I agree. Their salty brininess is welcome after sweating so much. We sit in the sun basking in the accomplishment of reaching the summit and challenging ourselves with such a physically demanding ascent. Maybe it’s not challenging to other people, but to us, it’s in our sweet spot of challenge. Not too little but also not too much. A good challenge.
We’re cooling down in the breeze at the summit of Dorr Mountain. It feels good to cool down a bit with the sweat on our skin acting like air conditioning. After a while, we start hiking down the mountain via a different but no less challenging descent. There are still lots of steep downward sections and lots of stairs. We’re glad to have our hiking poles allowing our arms to share the work with our legs.
By the end of the hike, we’re done. In fact, we’re beyond done. We probably could have been done a mile or two ago. We’re tired but it’s a satisfied tired. We’re sticky and probably a bit smelly but that’s excellent too. It’s a badge that reminds us of our victory today. Our victory of challenging ourselves to become more fully alive through adventure. Our victory of saying yes to a challenge. Our victory of knowing that we’d be hot and sweaty and said yes anyway. Sure it’s helped to have quick-drying clothing, comfortable packs, lots of snacks, and lots and lots of water. But it also helped us to embrace the sweat and challenge, choosing it intentionally and knowing that often that happiness and fulfillment are hard and sweaty.
See you out there,