Stepping still

over rocks, through mud.

Going downhill hurts as much as going up,

Just differently.

Another river crossing:

boots off, boots on.

Walk onward, upward.

The pack is heavy.

It and gravity are in league together

against you.

Mile after slow mile.

Now the scree and the wind

are joining in the coalition

with the pack and gravity.

Onward, upward.

Finally a pause.

Turn around.

Look from whence you came.

Look spread out below you and behind you,

an insurmountable pass,

surmounted step by stupid step.

Feel the air flowing through your lungs,

the blood rushing through your veins,

the muscles you can nearly sense growing stronger.

It always takes so much longer than planned,

and there is still so much ahead.

Challenge and mystery gladly team up

with the pack, gravity, scree, wind, mud, and rivers.

But the well has been tapped.

Fortitude flows freely now.

To the next pass,

and the one after that.

Onward, upward.