Just before Christmas, I had the chance to accompany a competitive girls basketball team to a tournament in Arizona. In addition to watching some great basketball, my husband Joe and I had the opportunity for a hike up Camelback Ridge, a famous trail in Echo Canyon Park. As we passed the trailhead at 4pm, a park ranger warned us to be back down by 5:25pm. Confident and energetic, we forged ahead, making the steep climb to the peak by 5pm. At the summit, we stood proudly among a gathering of happy people enjoying the spectacular view. A friendly and hard-core looking hiker warned us that the 5:25pm deadline was real, and the park gave out tickets to anyone who is late getting off the mountain. We laughed and took a series of great photos to the warm glow of the setting sun.
Making our way down, we continued to take great photos. We started to be passed by a series of ultra-marathon looking types jogging quickly by. Enough runners passed that I started to think that maybe they knew something we didn’t: either, they were being chased by wild game; or the 5:25pm penalty was real. With a surge of energy, we started to sprint down. My husband laughed at me, as he’s never seen me scamper down a mountain slope with such glee. It had become a game – Belinda versus park ranger. With sixty seconds to spare, we made it across the finish line. I looked around to give the ticketing officer a high-five, but none was to be found. Enquiries with other hikers revealed that ticketing is a practice, but seldom enforced. However, the large number of foolish hikers stranding themselves up on the mountain after dusk with only their cell phones to guide them was real. The emergency response team is frequently called to help pull people out after they injure themselves after dark.
All in all, what could have been a stressful situation ended up being the highlight of my trip. Sometimes when we’re stressed situation, it’s hard to see the silver lining. Only afterwards are we able to reflect on the strength, courage or skill it took to get ourselves out of it.
Although I know the journey that each of you is on might be difficult, we hope that you are able to take time to catch the sunset or beauty that exists within it.
Warm regards from the entire Landing Strong Team,
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong