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The Temptation To Give Up Is Often Strongest When The Goal Is In Sight

September 2, 2015

What do you want to do Dad? We can stay here at the saddle and watch the sunrise, or press on for the summit. 

I don’t know if I’lll ever hike this mountain again. I think I’d like to press on for the summit even if it means we miss watching the sunrise rather than stay here at the lower elevation and risk not getting to summit.

The eastern horizon was already glowing a warm yellow, heralding the dawn of a new day. 

This day was starting out differently than other days had. I’ve often seen the sunrise, but never from 11,000 feet. We got at 3:00 AM and had hiked for 3 hours. In that time we had covered about 6 miles. 

It was a race now, a race between my son and me versus the approaching dawn. The problem was, I was tired. I was beyond tired. My feet were bruised through my boots. My knees were complaining with every step. The thin air was making it hard for me to get a breath. I had to stop frequently to rest and catch my breath. 

My son, if he was feeling any of the effects of the hike, didn’t show them. And yet, he matched pace with me the whole way. He was content to let me set the pace. If I wanted to stop, he was willing to make that the end of his hike.

Crossing the saddle, we found ourselves on the west slope of Mt Timpanogos for the first time. This change in geography presented a problem for us. The mountain blocked our view of the eastern horizon. We might completely miss the sunrise while toiling along in the shadow of the ridgeline. 

This is what I call the “Life Scout” Award location of a trip. 

We were taking one of many breaks. Coming across the saddle, we could see our objective. It was hard to judge just exactly how much farther the summit was. But, we had a good view of the tortuous trail. 


How do you mean? 

What rank comes after Life Scout?

Eagle Scout.

Exactly. Eagle Scout. There are countless boys who make it to Life Scout, they can see the goal in sight, and they choose instead to give up.

The temptation to give up got stronger with every step. My knees screamed “Make it stop!” after every step. The entire sky was now bright enough that we no longer needed our headlamps. We appeared to be the only two still hiking the trail. Everyone else had found a place to sit and watch the sun come up. Finally, only a single stretch of trail lay between us and the summit. 

 Lacking a good view of the sky, it was impossible to know how many minutes remained before the sun broke through. 

Sure you don’t want to stop, Dad?

I’ve seen plenty of sunrises. I’ve never been to the top of this mountain, in who’s shadow we live. We’ll press on.

I earned my Eagle Scout award when I was 15. I did not intend to be stopped by the “Life Scout” temptation at this point. 

This week, I’m telling the story of hiking Mt Timpanogos with my son. 

Monday: How I Got Lost In The Wasatch Mountains On My Way To The Summit
Tuesday: Not Only Up Before The Sun, But Up, Up And Away Up Before The Sun
Tomorrow: The Race To The Top
Friday: Lessons From A Mountain

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

  1. Great read!

  2. Glad you liked it. It’s just storytelling.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Racing The Sun To The Top Of A Mountain | Rodney M Bliss
  2. 25 Things I Learned Climbing Mt Timpanogos | Rodney M Bliss

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