Nature Girl, Part 2

by Abby on March 12, 2012

Hiking, or rather, sliding down the mountainSaturday mornings are for lounging around in your PJs sipping coffee while the kids watch cartoons, right? That’s what I thought, until on a visit to my in-laws’, my SIL showed me differently. By 9am last Saturday – on a 25-degree day in Massachusetts – I found myself swathed in fleece, wool, and down, hiking up a mountain.

My SIL has recently undergone what you could only call a complete transformation. She has lost more than 80 lbs, overhauled her diet, and developed a passion for hiking. This is remarkable to me. Not just because she has accomplished so much (she has), not just because she looks happier and healthier than I’ve ever seen her (she does), but because she is a living, breathing, mountain-climbing example that the saying “people don’t change” is complete bunk.

My SIL adjusted her heart-rate monitor, started the hike-tracking app on her iPhone, tightened the laces on her hiking boots, and told me to pace myself. Standing there in my jeans and borrowed sneakers, I wondered just how intense this hike this was going to be. I would soon find out.

As we maneuvered along moss-lined streams and snow-covered boulders, my SIL told me how she had always hated being outside as a kid. Her brothers skied and biked and swam, but she wanted no part of it. I can relate. Remember, I’m a repressed nature girl? My boys love to play outside year-round, but I usually prefer the comfort of an indoor gym and a stationary bike. I thought I was in pretty good shape, but as the trail got steeper and steeper, I began to fall behind my SIL. I forgot all about being cold, though.

iciclesDuring one of my frequent water breaks, I noticed the glittering icicles along the underside of a rock. Another ice formation that reminded me of lava rippled alongside the trail. On the face of a rounded boulder, water drops beaded and rolled behind a clear sheet of ice, like oil in water. Evergreens filtered the sunlight from above. I inhaled the cold, clear air deeply. Yeah, I can see the appeal.

At the summit, we stopped for a brief rest and a protein bar, taking in the view of the blue mountains and silver clouds. Then it was time to head back. “We’ll take my favorite trail,” said my SIL, as she led me to a steep downward slope of ice-covered rocks.

“This is a trail?” I asked warily.

“Yes, see those markings on the trees?” If you say so…

She insisted on carrying my water bottle for me. Then halfway down, she switched shoes with me, giving me her high-tech boots. I think she was afraid I wasn’t going to make it down the mountain otherwise. My legs were shaking and burning. “This isn’t hard for you?” I gasped. She laughed.

This self-professed non-athletic, non-outdoorsy person was skipping up and down a MOUNTAIN, in WINTER, like it was no big deal! And as we hiked — or rather, she hiked, I slid — she was telling me about the triathlon she did last year (yes, a triathlon!), her dream of biking the length of Cape Cod one day, and her upcoming mission trip to Guatemala.

It’s a good thing people can and do change, because I want to be like her one day. Or at least be able to make it down a mountain in one piece.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello March 12, 2012 at 8:04 am

What a great story and shows how we can do pretty much anything we set our mind to. Very happy for your SIL and what she has done to change her life, it’s not easy and it’s not a passing phase; it’s a lifetime commitment. Cheers!!


Malia March 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

It’s always inspiring to hear about someone changing their life for the better! And a great reminder that we always have the ability to reinvent ourselves. 🙂


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