In my formative years I did not witness healthy balanced and consistent words of appreciation. I learned to make do without. I even insulate my heart from desiring such encouragement. But I do enjoy it in small doses when it’s not premeditated.

After the hike, when two people were particularly recognized and appreciated for their selfless and patient hardworking attitude, I wondered if I fell short of an exemplary attitude. I honestly reflected on my own selfishness and survival instinct.

was I envious of others’ admirable character? Possibly. I shared these thoughts with Conrad and he said he questioned himself the same way. I don’t think he said it to make me feel better.

Gratitude was shared with the best intentions, and I shake off any self doubt at this point. But during our rest after the hike I wrote down these thoughts to help me process. And it did.

The mountains ahead were tall for all of us. We were not tested. We honestly stepped forth in faith, with just some strength building short-hikes. But nothing like crossing the Alps on expert trails day after day in rain fog snow and summer heat sometimes on the same day. 

I felt light because I didn’t have to worry about my kids. We have tracked many peaks with them teaching them about the beauty of nature, the dangers and the beauty. 

On our five days long hike in the Alps we looked ahead and stayed on track. We watched every step, and with humility and determination we undertook the challenge. 

We were in front, we were in the back, and mostly we were somewhere in the middle. Chatting or silently walking. We carried our fears and burdens. Some friends needed more help on the second and third day. And others stepped up to help very specifically in ways I know couldn’t have helped. But I witnessed offering help and accepting help. And as a team we made it through a treacherous long hike. I am grateful for thé physical strength of some, their relentless support. And the determination and mental strength of those who struggled. 

At the very end there was a feast of tears and gratitude expressed. And two men were particularly recognized for their role in keeping the group as a whole on track. 

As a mature adult I can look at it with clear eyes but in the moment a pang a guilt tried me. Did I not do enough to help others? Should I have tried to be on the lookout for the needs of others more? My fresh monthly instinct caused me to ponder these things but Conrad would say: “we are all adults here”. 

At the end I told my heart to fully rejoice with the two people who received the accolades. We are not the culture where everyone gets a trophy for participation. To enter in the joy of the celebration, be the one who shows gratitude and be the one who partakes in the joy of making it through. 

We all made it. And I know those who thrive on words of affirmation did not soak in many of them. We all quietly pushed through. For the last few hundred meter elevation on the longest descent and ascent, my friend Camilla carried my backpack as she had only one backpack between her and her husband. They had sent there ahead on a luggage gondola. My knees were staring to feel weak. I wanted to pick it up again on the last 100m but she insisted she carried it all the way. She saved the day for me. At the hut we were beyond exhausted and emotionally drained. One grumpy answer caused a domino effect. It takes so much strength to not let the domino after you fall especially if you are already weak in the knees and someone pushes you even slightly. 

Wet, cold, burdened, knees hurting, toes bruised for some, muscle aches, legs, back, neck, scraped knees, bruised butts, we really scrambled up and down a chain of very high peaks in the Austrian Alps. Our bladders and our digestive systems were tense and shy. But we made it through. 

I am grateful for this humbling experience, for the people that were with us. Everyone shined with resilience, kindness, even when things were not easy, and all our buttons were pushed. 

Young and old, women and men, side by side, or in a row, adapting to each other’s pace, with flexibility and humility and a good attitude… this is what I am left with. The knowledge that together we made it, found solutions in difficult legs of the hike, adapted and accepted help, listened and communicated well. Everyone succeeded. Because everyone made it back in one piece. And we did it together. To God be the glory.