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Rebirth: A Reflective Essay

Destination: St. Mary Peak, Bitterroot National Forrest, Above the center of the Three Posts


I am walking to the mountaintop. Yes, I’m walking but only after driving most of the way. I follow the zigzag path through trees struggling against rocky outcroppings and boulders that increase as I climb. At this elevation, the trees are stunted versions of the mighty ponderosa pines farther down the mountainside. The air grows thinner and my breathing more labored. Will the struggle be worth what I find at the top? My footsteps slow as the grade increases.

The trees become mere shrubs until I come to the last of them. Beyond this point, the rocky outcroppings and boulders have won. I trudge onward, my eyes on the path ahead. Occasionally I lift my gaze. Boulders and sky are all I can see as though it goes on like this forever. But I have been told the end will justify the means, that the climb will be rewarded.

No one is forcing me to make this journey. It would be easy to turn back and walk a path that offers no elevation gain, no stones which seem to be precisely positioned to catch the toes of my boots. Why did I pick the trail less traveled? Is the absence of companions along this way an indication that I have not chosen well? I settle down onto a boulder and sip from my water bottle. The only water I see around me is in the form of snow and ice in shadowed pockets.

I rise to my feet and look back down the trail from where I have come. It is a fight against my will to turn back uphill and resume the journey. What I see is in stark contrast to the promise I was given. I see no breathtaking panoramas, only the climb, rocks and sky. The temperature drops. The wind increases. I stop and pull a jacket from my backpack. Is it enough?

Approach to the Summit of St Mary Peak, Bitterroot National Forrest

I finally come to a place where the path disappears ahead of me as it begins to level out, but when I arrive the climb goes on, less steep, but it goes on. Resentment rises when I realize the deception. My legs and lungs burn with bitterness. The grade continues to diminish. Hope rises with the caution of a frightened chipmunk emerging from a hole after the fox has given up the chase. One foot in front of the other is all I can manage, or I would break into a run for the summit.

I stand on the highest point. I have earned the distinction of being on top of the world. At least from here, ten thousand feet seems to be as much. I can see into the canyons nearby. The mountainside is sheer to where stone meets forest and a lake shines at its center like a jewel. The peaks rise and fall into the distance until two thousand square miles of wilderness overwhelm me. The sun’s rays highlight the stone and glisten on ice in contrast to the dark crevices and deep shadows.

I recall the climb as if it were a distant memory and am reminded of the words of a wise man.

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

I feel as if I have just been born into a new world.

But the trail waits. The waning sun flirts with the most distant peaks. I will go back to my daily life with new hope for myself and the world from which I am inseparable. We must keep struggling and climbing until one day we reach that place of reward where beauty and peace stretch out in every direction like a sun-bathed mountain wilderness.

In remembrance of the victims of the recent Florida shootings.

St Mary Peak Near Missoula, Montana, USA



Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 04, 2018:

Paula, may your day be filled with beauty, peace and hope. Thank you for visiting and sharing.

Suzie from Carson City on March 04, 2018:

Chris...Wow! Powerful and uplifting. Such a beautiful story describing how man can and does push through physical & emotional struggle, to find a "place of reward." You have graced me with determination and hope.

An amazing dedication to all the victims of the egregious tragedy in Florida, all those before them and quite sadly, those to come.

Until humankind transforms their struggles with this power of hope and determination, into our place of reward, where beauty and peace prevail..........We trudge on together. Paula.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 04, 2018:

Genna, I agree, it is still possible for humanity to save itself. I was reading about the history of the ABM Treaty and Putin's latest announcement about Russian Nuclear and rocket technology. We have to find ways to go around these "Leaders" and build bridges with the people.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on March 04, 2018:

This is beautiful, Chris, and a stunning remembrance of the victims of the Florida shootings. More than courage and hope, this analogy brings the sense of what is still possible for humanity. Thank you for making my Sunday more meaningful.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 28, 2018:

Frank, I love the mountaintops, and the journey up is part of the experience that makes it worthwhile and special. If I could have driven to the top, it would not have been the same. Thanks for visiting.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 28, 2018:

Yves, Life is as full of marvels as it is challenging, and the one gives us the perspective and strength to face the other. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 28, 2018:

I think I have to agree with savvydating.. this is indeed a analogy for achieving a meaningful life.. wish I had said it first..

Yves on February 27, 2018:

A wonderful analogy for achieving a meaningful life, not to mention, your reflections read like poetry. What a lovely dedication to the victims of the recent school shooting. These kids are rising up and letting the us know that something has to change. I hope they are also learning about the message in this piece....that life is valuable, but that it takes work and perspective to know why. Wonderful work, Chris.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 27, 2018:

I'm glad you enjoyed the journey. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Shafqat Mushtaq on February 26, 2018:

It is been a great journey!

Ann Carr from SW England on February 25, 2018:

Great! If you do, be sure to let me know where you're going. You'd be welcome to pop by.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 25, 2018:

Nikki, it's always a joy to have you stop by. Thanks for the comment and many blessings to you as well.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 25, 2018:

Ann, I remember you telling me about your trip. It sounds like you have had a wonderful trip. Fingers crossed, I hope to be traveling next summer in Europe for a few months. I'll be sure to swing by your neck of the woods.

Nikki Khan from London on February 25, 2018:

Just wonderful Chris, it gives lots of courage and hope to try hard to achieve your goals of life.One day you will reach at top of the hill.Thanks for such an amazing inspiration.

Many Blessings.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 24, 2018:

Yes, we're lucky enough to be travelling in Australasia since before Christmas and aiming for home shortly. I've been trying to keep up on hubpages now and then. Looking forward to seeing more of your excellent work which is always a delight to read.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 24, 2018:

Michael, thank you for that very kind and encouraging words. Any path worth taking will inevitably lead to glory, as you have said. I'll be spending the spring, summer and fall venturing out to these remote areas. I hope to do a good deal of writing about them.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 24, 2018:

Ann, so good to hear from you. You are in Australia? I am jealous. The sunset sounds magnificent. Thanks for taking time out to read my hub. I'm always flattered when you do.

Michael-Milec on February 24, 2018:

Ahh Chris, it was an exciting experience. Accompanying you as you walked, for a moment or two, I slowed my breath, keeping up with your breathing. I couldn't see you alone on the path through suffering into glory. Finally, it is most indispensable to achieve the winner's crown.

Ann Carr from SW England on February 24, 2018:

Great piece of writing, Chris. I know what you mean about the rewarding panorama after a hard climb. It certainly makes one appreciate the world but also tells us to strive in order to get the best.

I saw an Australian sunset last evening which covered the whole sky in its melody of colours - such beauty is meant to give us joy and hope.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 24, 2018:

Jack, these mountaintops and wilderness areas are what give me hope. The creator would not dangle these bits of heaven in front of us if they were not capable of giving us hope in the here and now.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on February 24, 2018:

Robin, I am blessed to be back in Montana for the remainder of the year. I am sure I will be posting many hubs regarding my adventures into the wilderness.

Robin Carretti from Hightstown on February 24, 2018:

Yes I understand take care

jgshorebird on February 24, 2018:

Thoughtful. It was more a poem to me, than an essay. Opens more windows for me. Never considered those mountain tops a rebirth, but I suppose they are, spiritually.

Robin Carretti from Hightstown on February 24, 2018:

That is my summit just amazing I love it Montana is heavenly in so many ways

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