You usually begin your hike in the valley--but the trail begins the upward ascent quickly. The early stages of the trail are long stretches of up an up. I find myself stopping and resting quite a bit as my heart rate climbs with exertion.
Many parts of the trail are through deep forests with limited visibility. The only indication of others on the trail is hearing voices from afar. Voices which can be misleading since the reverberation off the trees can create misrepresentation of the direction and whether up or down. As you climb switch-back trails---you go up and up--with a short break of flat at best--but usually a slow steady climb as you search for the top.
Often you will come out of the deep forest and hit a mountain meadow--filled with breath taking wildflowers of every color and type. A false sense of accomplishment will be quickly dashed when you realize you have only climbed out of the tree line. Enjoying the relatively flat terrain of the meadow and usually the beauty of the brooks flowing through it is short term for you are headed to the final climb.
Those last miles as you head for the summit are the most treacherous---loose rock--called scree can fill the trail--huge boulders to climb over---at times the only safe way up is on your knees. Occasionally some trail builder will leave hand holds in the rocks to assist you in the final pull up. The last few yards are the most treacherous and dangerous but with the final push and pull up---you reach the crest--or the pass---of the long climb.
As you look out at the world--all is below ---there are no words to describe the beauty. You stand on top of the world with the beauty of the mountains stretching as far as you can see--all below you. The clouds all an arm length away provide a lofty umbrella just above your finger tips. There is no equal to the beauty of what you see--and you can only see this sight if you first take the climb.
These mountain hikes are a great deal like life. Parts of the trail are treacherous, dangerous, and more difficult than you think you are capable of. There are meadows to walk through--seasons of beauty and relative ease. The future is not known as the trail switches back and forth as you continue the climb which requires blind trust knowing every turn can hold danger or surprise. Still there is only one choice to get to the top---keep putting one foot in front of the other. God often holds our hands---and sometimes even carries us--when we cannot go on---He never leaves our side and guides us as we climb toward the top. Then the sweet reward as we look upon the beauty of His grace--the Son shining upon us---as we finally reach the crest.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains.