Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

It was a typical Saturday morning of waking up, feeling anxious and worrying about what I would eat for breakfast. I skipped going to Hasbrouck Dining Hall and ate some bread instead. With little appetite and a small cough creeping on, I planned to stay in to do laundry and homework all day. 

I almost did just that. I did laundry and picked on snacks for a few hours, still not feeling my best. I was just about ready to lounge on the couch and intersperse actually getting work done with watching clips of Last Week Tonight on YouTube for the rest of the day. 

Instead, at around 3 p.m., I got a text from my significant other, The Oracle’s very own news copy editor Brandon Doerrer, asking if I wanted to go to the gym.

For background, I am nowhere near a healthy or physically active person. I do not have a remotely healthy diet, I rarely eat average-sized meals, and I haven’t been to the gym since freshman year. I attribute most of this to anxiety, which often makes me irrationally fearful of passing out or vomiting.

However, I’ve been wanting to change some of these things about myself. It’s been shown that working out really helps with anxiety, so I’ve wanted to try it for a while now. Brandon, of course, knew this when he asked about going to the gym. So he was not pleased when my answer was “No, I don’t feel well enough today.”

He then proceeded to give me a classic Brandon-lecture on willpower, so I eventually agreed to go. But then he had a better idea, to do something we had planned for this semester and I was secretly avoiding: hike Mount Beacon.

“Hiking,” for me, usually entailed a nice stroll around Lake Minnewaska. I had never done anything as intensive as the steep trail up to the highest peak in the Hudson Highlands.

Still, I ate as much of my Ramen-lunch as I could, we stopped at Tops for snacks and then set off for Beacon.

When we got there, I still had plenty of my usual anxious thoughts running through my head. What if I didn’t feel well halfway up? Would we have cell service to call for help? Would helicopters have to swarm down to rescue me? You know, that kind of stuff.

But with a water bottle and Chex Mix in hand, I told myself it would all be OK. I was determined to get to the top.

We got to the top of the initial staircase and I was already out of breath and falling behind a bit. Brandon said the next section would be the steepest we’d have to walk up. I told myself I could do this.

As we continued up, we were constantly being attacked by flies. Swatting them away, we cursed ourselves for not thinking to bring bugspray. It was so unbearable that I walked down a bit to ask some fellow hikers if they had any. They didn’t. 

We almost decided to head back and return another day. But upon realizing we were only about 10 minutes from the top, I didn’t want to turn back. I actually wanted to keep going.

So we did. Chugging water and hanging onto trees for support, we finally made it. Before my eyes appeared the gorgeous view of the Hudson River and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. A huge smile crept onto my face and I felt great for the first time in a while.

Sitting up there, with tears of joy welling up in my eyes, I felt so proud. I realized that I am mentally and physically capable of much more than anxiety leads me to believe. Pushing myself is always going to be difficult, but will always be worth it for the view.