climbing up and letting go

It’s Thursday and I’m in the throes of a crazy Rim to River (and back) day hike at the Grand Canyon.  In preparation for today’s madness hike I did a training hike at Mt. Charleston this past Monday – Memorial Day. I scrolled through old posts to see if I had written about hiking this trail before – mostly so I could compare my completion time – such a competitive bitch, I am. Anyway, turns out I had. And since it’s Thursday…why not? Here’s another nod to Throwback Thursday [#TBT]. This one combines hiking with some deep introspection. Hope you enjoy. p.s. See how I was all smug for having finished this hike in 02:20:00 last year? On Monday I finished it in 02:02:05! BOOYAH!! 

Originally posted August 30, 2013 – edited

If you’re at all familiar with Southern Nevada, you’ll know that hiking at lower ground during the summer months is a recipe for heat stroke and dehydration, so the trails of Mt. Charleston are a far better option. Not only do they offer more challenge through the higher elevations, but they serve up temps that are typically 20-30 degree cooler than down in the valley.

Bristlecone Trail is a hike I originally attempted back in March but had to give up on, just a mile or so in, due to snow and ice. I was determined to own it this time.

The trail is a 6+ mile loop, with two separate trailheads, upper and lower, separated by a stretch (approx. 1/2 mile) along Lee Canyon Rd.


Starting at the Lower Trailhead means a more challenging hike, with an elevation gain of +1,091′ and a loss of -861′ on the back half, descending towards the upper trailhead.

When I set off on this hike, I was struggling with some questions.

Specifically around my ability to let go of things.

Super specifically, around my ability to let go of the anger I felt towards a certain individual who was responsible for me losing my job. A job I was very good at. One that I enjoyed. One that I didn’t deserve to lose.

This individual arguably got his comeuppance a short time later when he was unceremoniously let go for, get this, performance issues.


Unfortunately it happened 10 months too late, for my liking. Whilst the timing was not, he did get what he deserved. Lady Karma served up her payback.

So I should have felt better, right?

Well, why then was I still harbouring anger and unresolved feelings?

I dug deep and wondered…maybe it’s because I never got to say my peace. I didn’t get the last word in. Last word? Hell, I didn’t get ANY word in. On the day the news that my role had been eliminated due to a corporate restructuring, it wasn’t even the underperforming garden gnome who delivered said news. He relegated that to others. Nice guy.

And so, I surmised, my lingering anger was because I didn’t have the opportunity to confront the person who had caused my hardship.

I pondered this as I took in the amazing vistas. Mother Nature never fails to humble me with her utter beauty, peace and grace.


How can you not be wowed by this?


Breathtaking and humbling.

Between deep, cleansing breaths, I considered what I would say, if I ever had the opportunity to confront the wee, evil man with the Napoleon syndrome.

Lots of colourful expletives came to mind. I don’t have to dig very deep to tap into my inner bitch. In fact, I generally have to keep her on a tight leash to prevent her from pouncing unexpectedly.

And then, amidst my gleeful troll-bashing, I noticed a patch of trees with strange markings all over them. I walked over to investigate. My blood started boiling as I figured out what I was looking at: initials, carved into the bark by some thoughtless idiot.


Why would anyone do this?

To look around, take stock of all the natural beauty, and decide that it would only get better by carving your initials into a tree?

Selfish. Narcissistic. Prick.

My initial reaction was to find something sharp and carve in, “You SUCK, you stupid fucker” with an arrow pointing up to the offending initials.

And then I realized the futility.

Me confronting the asshole who cost me my job, is akin to me carving even more words into that tree. Neither would result in changing what had already happened. And, worse still, would leave me feeling shitty about myself for having stooped to that level.

Instead, taking a deep breath, I let go of my anger. I walked away from that tree, and also from the residual memories of that horrible, little man, knowing exactly who I am.

I am someone who no longer needs to retaliate to feel better. I feel better in the knowledge that I rose above the shit.

And also that I kicked that hike’s ass. The guide book said the completion time should be 2-3 hours. I did it in 2:20. So take that Bristlecone Trail, and suck it! 🙂

Get moving!

xoxo nancy

10380603_10152540598423474_8755331654080114991_oahhh… doesn’t this make you feel calm and happy??

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79 thoughts on “climbing up and letting go

  1. I hope you are doing an awesome job on your crazy hike and not in any way dead…

    with that in mind, your improvement, both physically and mentally is awesome! I need to take a leaf out of your book and let go of some grudges…

    I have a tendency to hold on to things…and hold grudges, once when I was 5 we lent some of my books to a friend…and they came back wrecked…to this day I do not lend books to people just in case…this is not an important thing…it is just an example of my capacity to hold a grudge for 33 years…

    ok…yes I need to work on that!

    • As you know from Facebook update Thursday night, I’m alive and made it back to the top. I’ll definitely add more colour to that story soon. Hoping my video bits survived. Phone died about 90 mins from the end. So my Strava was incomplete – which pissed me off to no end. My calves are still in a LOT of pain two days later, but I’m glad I did it. It was quite the experience. Hardest I’ve pushed my body to date.

      Re: letting go of grudges, I hear you Sam. This was my worst character trait. It’s something I still need to work on all the time. In the case of the troll, it was easier because I knew that even if he lost his job (which he did) it wouldn’t get me my job back. Holding onto that anger served no one. Certainly not me.

      • I am glad you survived and it was worth doing 😀 I am really proud of you for doing it! I don’t think I could!!!

        I would be cross too if my phone died like that…and it would have done…

        This year has made me better at letting go, and finding the positive in things rather than hang on to the angst and negative..,I still have a way to go though!! Xxxx

  2. It was very interesting reading this post. I’m retired today because of an experience similar to yours. It was MONTHS before the anger started to dissolve – I didn’t really let it go, it just dissolved.
    It’s now been 3 years and there is still a residual sadness. I’ve never fully recovered from the kick to my self-confidence.
    I’m so glad you have recovered and your competitive spirit is alive and thriving!!
    Good luck on the Blue Angel 🙂

    • There is more to the story of my departure than meets the eye, but because I accepted the re-negotiated package, a very generous one, due to the circumstances, I can’t talk about it. Suffice to say this was something else, disguised as a re-org.

      It shouldn’t fill my heart with joy that my business went from best in world (all subsidiaries) when I was running it to worst in world the year following my exit. But it does, it truly makes my heart dance a little jig knowing his decision hurt the bottom line so profoundly. And he lost his job. 🙂

  3. Challenging yourself against a mountain is a great way to let it all go. that’s one of the things I love about rock climbing.
    (Cripes, I sound new-agey!)

    Have a great Canyon walk!

    • I read a quote recently, something like: “It’s impossible to be unhappy in the forest.” I would expand that to: on a mountain. 🙂

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have never experienced a sense of peace, of the divine, of a full connectedness to the universe in any house of worship the way I do on a mountain. It’s my “church”.

    • Was careful (sort of). Had fun (no, not really). Took mostly video, which I now have to figure out how to splice together to make into one. I’m sure it’s not hard but I’m still brain dead, 2 days later. 🙂

      • Glad you’re safe and in one piece! I hope video editing means you will be sharing.

      • Oh don’t worry! That’s understandable. If nothing else, I want it emailed. 😉

      • I just viewed all the ones I took from my phone. OMG. I am a horrible videographer. People will get motion sickness. 🙂

        Hoping the ones I took on the camera are good (ie that they recorded) because that was the most gruelling part of the hike, so I had to be entertaining. 🙂

        ps I say fuck a lot.

      • Ohhh my favorite curse word. 🙂 I hope they turned out good because I’d love to see them! Although, I do get motion sick videos so you may have to warn me.

      • I was only moving /walking during a few of them. Mostly I was standing still – but for reasons unknown to me – pointing the video at rocks or the ground. 🙂 a couple videos from a moving car may make for a bit of motion sickness. Each one was only 20-30 seconds in length, so it shouldn’t be too bad.

      • Oh yeah, that’s ok then. Did you ever see Blair Witch? I couldn’t watch so many parts of it because of the camera! Lol Not like I missed a winner or anything though. 🙂

  4. I hope your day has been filled with beauty and accomplishment, Nancy! Of course I’ve never been a “horrible-little man” but sadly have suffered through both hearing the “restructuring news” and having to be the bearer of said news. They both suck! Happily we’re in better places today and as hard as it is, walking away on the highroad is the only way to go. 🙂

    • Thanks Lisa. If you look back at my response to Joanne you’ll see that there was more to this than met the eye. Re-org/role elimination was a nice way to disguise something less nice. And since I don’t want to get my ass sued for reimbursement of my package, I’ll say no more. 🙂

      You’re right about one thing: I am in a better place now, personally: my health, my sanity, my happiness. I’m not sure my career will ever return to the trajectory it was on though. And that makes me sad.

      • I didn’t deserve it – but with the gift of time and space, I know see that it was a gift. That package bought me time: time to invest in myself – do nothing, or everything, whatever I felt like – without worrying about finances. It lead me to My Year of Sweat (the act, not the blog :-)) and it helped me find my happy. 🙂

  5. I’m thinking about you today on your scary hike!!
    I love this post in so many ways…I love how it flows, the writing is so very nice and I love how it all comes together, I also love what you learned and how it came about, and of course, I adore the photos. Hiking is your yoga 🙂

    • Hiking IS my yoga, you nailed it Kerry! I never thought if it that way, but you’re absolutely right. Now I can stop apologizing for not “getting” yoga. Hiking IS my yoga!


  6. I’m glad you reposted this, NT:

    1. It’s well written, with just the right mix of specific examples and the bigger picture..

    2. Letting go of anger is something we all need to do to continue on our path without dragging around a wheelbarrow of woe for the rest of our days which definitely tends to slow us down.

    3. Seeing that improvement in your time from 2:20 to 2:02 makes me more confident about your ability to tell the Grand Canyon to “suck it.”

    Hope you’re having a Happy Hike!

    • Thanks for the kind words, NH.
      I love that quote, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

      I vs now say I truly understand that sentiment. It felt good to stop drinking the poison.

      The hike at GC was horrible. Disgusting. Gross. And beautiful. Amazing. Incredible. I’m still recovering physically, but have started to gather my thoughts about what that accomplishment means to me.

      • Sorry – zero connectivity for large chunks if Thursday night and all day Friday, by Lake Powell. All is good. Sort of. My feet are a mess (exploded blisters/raw flesh) and calves so right it still hurts to put any weight on them nearly 2 days later. Other than that, all good. 😉

  7. Ha! Telling a trail to take and suck it! As I take and suck too much Redwood Creek Pinot Noir, I’m laughing my ass off. Fantastic, John

  8. Booyah! You’r start’n to sound like a redneck Nancy! You kick ass…or your gonna be whooped.
    That’s what I’m talk’n about!

    • That trail kicked my ass, Pat. But, that said, I kicked a lot of other hikers’ asses – including many who were much younger than me.

      This was, by far, the hardest I’ve ever pushed my body. The physical challenge was immense, but the mental was not to be underestimated either.

      Net/net: I DID IT! BOOYAH! 🙂

  9. This is the third post I’ve read this morning about letting go. I think the blogosphere is sending me a message. Or hitting me over the head with it! Hope the hike went well! 🙂

    • Isn’t it crazy how a theme sometimes emerges from the blogosphere, without the obvious linking/same story. I hope you are able to let go of whatever was weighing on you. The sensation is absolutely liberating.

    • It was great to see the improvement, Maria, especially given it was my first hike in over 3 months. Makes me think I’m *maybe*, actually improving my health and physical condition after all. 🙂

  10. Dang, I feel so much better after reading this, Nancy!

    I had a similar experience job-wise and totally understand your anger and all the thoughts going through your head. While I wasn’t on that hike with you, this post has helped me in a weird, cyber-thingie way, just knowing that someone else can relate to how I’ve felt and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

    Now, I need to take a hike…:)

  11. Phenomenal post and pictures, Nancy! I am so moved by your energy and your stamina, and most importantly, your way of thinking through emotional trauma. It’s inspiring.
    I raise my glass to you for your terrific accomplishment (twice!) and wish you a bit of clear head and heart space.

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