How a Jenny Lake Hike Helped Heal my Heart
I love to go hiking. There is something about the fresh mountain air that just helps me feel alive and clear. I breath in the clean, crisp scent of pine and dirt. The breeze blows by carrying with it hints of rain on the horizon and I can finally relax and just be. Hiking gives me perspective, reduces stress, and brings me back to what’s truly important and a hike at Jenny Lake this summer helped to start heal my heart.
It was a beautiful August day and we chose to go hiking in Grand Teton National Park with the kids and went up to Jenny Lake. The hike around the lake to Hidden Falls is a classic you must do when playing tourist in Jackson. So we loaded up the kids for a day of fun and headed out.
The trail takes you up higher on the slopes so you are a fair distance above the water. About a mile into the hike we were dealing with a lot of ‘I’m tired’, ‘How much longer’ and ‘Will you carry me’ (from the littlest).
To keep the kids entertained we play the hide and seek game. One hiker goes ahead and hides behind a rock outcropping or clump of trees or bush, then waits until the group catches up then jumps out and yells to scare them. Pretty fun way to get out of your head and pass the miles.
During one of these parts of the hike, I hung back and was picking my way through shale and loose rocks.
I was struggling with some negative thoughts and some big changes we had just made in our life. We recently sold a business we had founded 7 years ago that had really become our baby and I was having a hard time letting go and moving on, even though it had been our decision to make the change.
As I hiked along I looked out at the lake and the calm stillness. A motorized boat was pulling passengers across the crystal blue expanse and I stopped hiking to watch the wake that was churned up behind the boat. From this distance, the water looked like glass, the wake no more than a white v extending behind the rear of the boat. And it was silent-you couldn’t hear the motor at all.
But I knew from experience that down in the boat the passengers were having a totally different ride. For them it would be wind in the hair, engine revving, water spraying up from the bow of the boat.
With my perspective what they were experiencing was calm and serene. But to them, they were in the thick of it, the water rough and wild.
Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the emotions that were so raw and tender to me right at that moment. I felt vulnerable, sad, and a sense of loss. In a way I was moving through the grief process closing this chapter of life and was so close to the pain and tenderness it was hard to believe that from a distance I might look calm and serene, just like the glassy water of Jenny Lake.
With this came another thought. With time passing between a sad event the edges become less rough, the pain becomes more bearable, and you can start to find the blessing in the trial. Time gives perspective.
I stood there on that mountain top feeling very small and insignificant in the big world, but also realizing that with that feeling came a release. While my problems and my inability to let go was holding me back, it would only take a bit of time and distance to change my perspective. Eventually I would be able to look back with fondness on the past 7 years. The tears wouldn’t fall so easily. I would move on.
But right now it is ok to be in the pain, to move through it, and to learn from it. Sometimes we need to feel the wind in our hair, to lose our breath, and get sprayed by the icy water. Everything we move through in life is our way to becoming who we are meant to be. Without the struggle there in no strength.
With a big breath and a long sigh letting go of the pain I was ready to release in that moment. I turned to catch up with my family. Still tender, still hurting, but able to see a distant light.