Hiking Pancake Summit was the first challenge I faced at UNR Summer Geology Field Camp. Being many, many moons older than the "kids" in my class, overweight, arthritic, and studded with neurological pain was to say the least - interesting. However, I found that "mind-over-matter" is a practice that I have mastered over the past 17 years after my injury on the job.
Each mapping day was a challenge of terrain, sagebrush, thorny plants, loose scree (rock fragments) on steep slopes, and fatigue. It was mentally as well as physically demanding due to our tight schedule. Pancake was a five-day hike and mapping with one day off (which really means you do laundry and work as much as you can on all the reports due for the project), and staying up all night to complete everything that was due on day six at 2PM.
The beauty of nature was inspiring, however I held onto thoughts that pushed me to complete each day and to not give up (believe me when I say I cried several days from pain and fatigue and wanted to quit and just go home...)
The following became my inspiration, my strength, and my daily ritual...
I thought about my two little beautiful granddaughters in Hawaii, and hope that someday they see my example and know that dreams can come true anytime in your life.
I also thought about my little California granddaughters who are really princesses and they dress like this everyday (really). I see them as often as school schedule allows, and try to instill in them the importance of a higher education. I love to teach them about rocks...and both these little ladies, I mean princesses, are excellent rock finders. [I can't wait til they are older so they can carry rocks for me as we hike around].
Last, I would tell myself that I need to put my "big girl panties" on and buck up and take one day at a time. After each completed day hiking and mapping the geology around Pancake Summit became a huge accomplishment for me. I treated each day as a "win" and that pushed me to continue.
I have come such a long way, a lot of money, and sacrifice of being with family to NOT do this.
Truth is, I am happy I was able to finish it despite the lost of my day the last week of camp. But he was with me. I heard him on the winds atop of mountains we hiked. I heard him in the running streams and rivers we came across. I felt him every step, helping me to hike with the weight of equipment, 6 L of water, and a change of clothing.
We all have the capability of finding strength in those we love, and those who love us...they are far away, or across oceans, and even Heaven, but they are embedded deep in our hearts and minds. They push us each step of our journey...and I cannot be more grateful for their love and support.
Dad, I wish you could have stayed long enough to see your daughter receive her B.S. in Geology, and although I know you will not be physically there in the audience of well-wishers, you will be there in heart and in spirit. You were a great father, and a true inspiration in my life. I will listen for you on the winds in my future hikes, and feel your strength as I take each step in my life.
To my little four angels (princesses) - I am doing this mostly for you.