It has been two days since I reached the second highest point of Mt Olympus (in order to reach the highest, you need ropes and lots of practice rock climbing), and my body feels like I walked into a moving train. The phrase “once in a lifetime opportunity” quite literally applies here because I will never be climbing another mountain in this lifetime! With that being said, however, I am so glad that I did it and I am so proud of myself for making it all the way up and back down without jumping off.
My two day journey began with a 6 hour bus ride from my school to the trail of the mountain. From there, we hiked 3.5 hours up, climbing stairs, hills, rocks, fallen over trees, etc. After about 2 hours in, my body just went into autopilot, I’m not sure exactly how I was moving but I just kept going – it’s amazing what your body can do with enough carbs and water. We finally reached the lodging center at about 8:30pm, we had just enough time for them to tell us the rules and order food before they stopped serving at 9pm. The rules: we must wear the slippers they provided at all times in the facility, no food or beverages in the bedrooms, lights out at 10pm. On top of there being no hot water and the WiFi not working, the “toilets” were literally holes in the ground we had to squat over – I really did not love it. On the bright side, their food was delicious.
The next day we hiked the remaining 1.5 hours up the mountain, but this path was even more strenuous than the first. By this time, we were out of the trees and were literally climbing up rocks on the side of the mountain. I wish I would have kept track of how many times I almost fell off. Once we made it to our destination, all the blood, sweat, and tears were worth it. There are no accurate words to describe how incredible the view was, I felt so accomplished at that moment. I looked at the massiveness that was below me and I couldn’t believe I made it all the way up there. Thankfully, going down was slightly easier but much faster than going up, we made it in about 3.5 hours. It took more energy to go up, but it was harder on my body coming down.
What I learned from this challenge is that I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit. So many times I thought “I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this,” but I kept going. My choices were to either quit and turn around, or finish what I started. Either way, I would have had to climb the mountain, and I’m not a quitter. I also learned that I can live without my phone for at least 48 hours, I can’t remember the last time I had to do that. This weekend I’ve been doing nothing but watching movies, eating, and squeezing in some homework in between. All is well.
Enjoy the views from Mount Olympus below!
– Keandra Stokes