Today I climbed a mountain.
I mean that literally. Today I climbed a fricking MOUNTAIN! That really should be in all CAPS and with underlines and flashing lights and a big neon sign around it. Today I CLIMBED A BIG FRICKING MOUNTAIN!
Ok, so what’s the big deal? Well this mountain has been on my to-do list for years. I mean 15 or 20 years probably, since I knew it existed. Mt Warning in NSW is the point at which mainland Australia first sees the sun in the winter. So it’s a bit of a pilgrimage to climb it in the early hours of the morning and sit on top to watch the sunrise.
When I started the 12WBT I decided that my goal weight milestone would be to climb this mountain and watch the sunrise. So when one of the other girls doing the challenge proposed a trip, of course I didn’t hesitate.
From the outset yesterday it seemed the universe was conspiring to make sure that if we DID do it, it would be memorable. And that we really wanted to do it. The day started with a 5.5 hour road trip to Mt Warning. Yes, I know from Brisbane it’s only 2.5 to 3 hours normally, and that’s Sunday driving. But that doesn’t account for a mini bus turning over on the highway, nor the 8 car pileup of nose-to-tail drivers who really weren’t paying attention to the fact that the person in front of them was stationary. And then there was the camping ground running out of firewood, and the firewood we ended up getting being damp, and … and … and …
Ok, so at 3am this morning we set off from the carpark at the foot of the mountain. On board were food supplies, water, and my ashes. Last night I spent some time writing down the stuff that I was, or I thought I was, but that I am no longer. It brought up some things I thought I had recovered from years ago, and was an enlightening exercise. I burned them and took the ashes with me to scatter on the mountain, as a symbolic release of what I will never go back to. What struck me most was after filling a bowl with screwed up pieces of paper and burning them, how little there actually was. How light the remains were.
The walk was challenging, in that whole “if there weren’t 6 other people doing this with me I’d probably turn around now” way. The last 400m (400m? Pretty sure they measured that wrong) was a rock climb. Not quite vertical, and with foot holds and a chain on the side of the path, but still a rock climb. We rounded a corner and I literally gasped as the first glimpse of the pre-dawn light was visible. Did I mention the blackest most moonless night in living history?
So there we were, on the top of a freezing cold wind swept mountain. Just me and a close bunch of about 50 complete strangers. I didn’t realise how many people made the trek in the middle of winter! Crazy bastards. We were there about an hour early, and we waited, and froze, and waited.
And then it happened. The first rays of the hugest most orange sun you’ve ever seen appeared over the horizon. The crowd hushed, and the chatter stopped, and everyone drank in the amazing sight before us. It was breathtaking. We were in a massive group, but at that moment I think we all realised that we are alone and responsible for ourselves. Nobody to blame when things go wrong, nobody to point the finger at. Just us.
There were photos, but the photos don’t do the event justice. There were numb hands and toes, and then dread as we all realised we had to go down the way we came. Only on our bottoms.
Today I realised, formally for the first time, I am NOT worthless. I am NOT last, I am NOT fat, or ugly, or hopeless, and I DO finish things. I left that mental image of myself on top of a mountain (well, kind of in my face as well when the wind sprung up at just the wrong moment!) and I am NEVER going back to that person. She served a purpose, she is who I was at the time, but she is not who I am now.
Today I climbed a mountain.