Lesson #336: The only way to it, is through it.

6/21/15.

Of course,

today’s lesson is the exact opposite of yesterday’s lesson.

That would happen.

At 5:00am, seven of us woke up at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise at a little park in the Hollywood hills called Griffith Observatory. We sped to catch the sun, got re-routed about three times (the freeway exit was closed), and finally arrived at the park.

Surprise.

We ended up doing a three hour hike for 7.2 miles through the mountains, all to make it to the Hollywood sign.

This was not planned.

We had no water. We hadn’t eaten. Some of us had one or two hours of sleep. We sure as hell weren’t in proper hiking shoes.

But when saw the incredible view, acknowledged the fact that we were already there, and realized that we had the whole day ahead of us—we decided,

“Why not?”

As soon as I saw the “Beware of rattlesnakes” sign, I knew shit was about to go down.

It started out as a dirt road.

Then it became a winding dirt road.

Then it became an upward winding road.

We had no idea where we were going, and we didn’t start out at the traditional entrance that headed to the sign. Basically, we were on one of the mountains nearby, we saw it, and we decided to head for it.

We asked people along the way which direction to go, and got different answers each time. So  we just kept heading towards the electric tower near the sign, determined to find a way to get there—whether it was up, around, down, or through.

Seriously.

We started scaling the mountain.

The path was carved out, but the trail was pretty thin. We were ridiculously high in the sky, so much that we could look down at the city through clouds of fog.

People were passing us in full-on hiking gear, meanwhile we’re grabbing rocks with our hands and sliding down drops on our butts.

But the view was absolutely beautiful.

Houses, lights, meandering roads, clouds, hills, greenery—it seemed like the world was endless.

After an hour of panting, stopping, and sweating, we finally reached the bottom of the mountain hike, and raced onto the normal path.

But we weren’t done yet.

We had another thirty minutes of walking uphill, tackling the last mountain.

Finally, we reached a gate.

The Hollywood sign was right in front of us, facing outwards towards the city. The letters were huge and white, even bigger than I had imagined.

We made it.

There were times that we actually doubted we would—but we did.

And it was honestly one of the most rewarding moments of my entire life.

It’s sounds so incredibly cheesy, but really, we did it all together. And that’s what made the experience so cool. We helped one another and kept each other going and it was great.

We got to the top and took pictures and hung out for a second, taking it all in. It wasn’t the view we initially imagined—but we soon realized that it was even closer.

The hike back down was even harder than coming up. We decided to head home towards our apartment, since it was closer than where we started. When we saw the new mountain we had to go down… I couldn’t even begin to tell you some of the looks on our faces. It was HUGE. And steep. Even steeper than the first. Since I was in a pair of converse and we were going downhill, I was sliding everywhere. I slipped and got a huge cut on my ankle and elbow, and scratches on my leg.

I guess I could call them wounds.

But I think I’ll call them battle scars instead.

See what I did there?

When the morning began, we thought it would be a nice, clear day—but there was a ton of fog. We thought we would reach the front of the sign—but we were behind it. We thought we were simply going to watch the sunrise—then we went on the most unexpected, challenging, hilarious, and incredible hikes of our lives.

So today’s lesson?

It’s all about perspective and perseverance.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s lesson, planning is important.

But when it comes to planning, things go wrong.

And when things go wrong, you have to be flexible.

And when you have to be flexible, being positive about it helps.

And when you’re positive about it, your perspective changes.

And when your perspective changes,

you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Believe me—this trip was not perfect. Aside from the physical hardships and barriers, I’m not going to pretend like it was all roses and daisies. There were definitely some emotions happening; some resentment and hesitation on everyone’s part.

But in the end,

we had each others back,

we changed our perspective,

we persevered,

we had fun,

we made memories,

and we made it.

And that’s what matters.

The next time you’re forced to face a mountain in your life (literally or figuratively…ha)—remember:

The only way the get to it, is to get through it.

Day 336.

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