After Matthew and I were married, thirteen years ago on a sultry July day, we headed north to honeymoon in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
We had many outdoor adventures that week, including one epic canoe trip. But every morning while we breakfasted on the porch of The Inn at Thorn Hill, we’d stare out at the horizon and say, ” we should climb Mount Washington.”
We were experienced hikers. A month earlier we’d spent a week backpacking in Shenandoah National Park, to make sure we really wanted to get married (we did). And this seemed like a fun adventure to take, the pinnacle to our week of White Mountain fun.
So we left The Inn with a lunch of sandwiches the staff had packed for us, and all of our post-wedding luggage in the car, as we were heading to a different bed and breakfast that night.
And on a beautiful, clear morning, we set off on our hike.
Side Note to explain what I’m wearing: There were many, many signs warning hikers not to leave valuables in the car, as break-ins were common. So clearly it made more sense to wear my pearls than to leave them in the car. And when one is already wearing pearls while hiking, why not don one’s hen party bridal veil as well?
The first part of the hike was stunning, as you can see in the photo above. There were lush green forests, well-maintained trails, and many friendly hikers.
There were also warning signs about the importance of having the proper supplies and equipment, noting that hikers requiring emergency rescue by helicopter would be responsible for the $20,000 fee.
Fortunately for us, the weather was good.
But it was a long hike, with many hours of scrambling over large rocks above tree line. Despite sunscreen, I got one of the worst sunburns of my life that day.
And distances are deceptive. Just because we could see the summit didn’t mean we were close.
But we kept going. We encouraged one another. And eventually, after many hours of hard work, we made it to the top!
Where it was just us, the weather observatory, and dozens of tourists who had driven up or taken the Cog Railway.
Perhaps it’s a good metaphor for marriage. As a couple, there have been plenty of times we have struggled together to reach a goal–a financial goal, a parenting goal, a relationship goal–that seemed to come easier to others.
Side Note: I’m not disparaging those who took a different route to reach the summit. If I were to visit Mt. Washington now with the kids, that’s how we would arrive. It was just a bit jarring to see so many people at the top after hours of seeing hardly anyone on the trail.
We had someone take our picture with the summit sign, signed the register of hikers, and started back down down the mountain. And you know what? For me, climbing back down over those huge rocks was much harder than climbing up. I was tired, my sense of balance was off, it was hard to see where to step next in that field of jagged gray, and we still had a long way to go without shade or a flat trail.
The entire hike took over nine hours. The next day, I could barely bend my knees. But we did it. Look at that view, with no other people in sight. This was our adventure, that we chose. And it is one of my fondest memories of our honeymoon.
While life has certainly thrown many rocks our way that we did not choose, we’ve somehow managed to scale them. One way or another, we’ve kept on the trail. I have hope that, after the last three years which felt like we were constantly scrambling over rocks above treeline in the blistering sun, maybe we’re at a green trees and waterfalls part of marriage again.
Thank you for choosing to share the journey with me, Matthew. There’s no one I’d rather hike with.