“Explore the nature around Pepperdine’s campus on this moderate to hard hike led by Campus Recreational staff. Bring a water bottle.”
That is what the Schedule description said. Sarah and I, being the awesome post-girl-scouts that we are, signed up for the outing. When we showed up at the meeting, we were shocked to see some freshmen wearing sweaters and purses and other frivolous items. Once the leaders had checked to make sure everyone had water, we ventured forth into the wilderness. Or so we thought.
Ten minutes later, we were still trekking on the pavement of the upper campus, wondering when the pre-hike would end. I was huffing and puffing before we even reached the grass (have I mentioned that Pepperdine has been nicknamed stair master university?). Finally, we reached the “trail,” and by that point, I was already hoping that the adventure was nearing an end. I’m not what you would consider the “athletic type.” Like, okay, if I were a Spice Girl, I would NOT be sporty. I’d be scary…
But anyway: several times during the outing, our guides would stop at a peak and start cheering, and we would cheer too, rejoicing in our victory, only to discover that they were tricking us, and that we were not done. After every mountain, another one rose up. So many times I thought I was near the end, and I was sorely mistaken.
It was not only the mystery of the unknown that was difficult, the hike turned out to more like “hard to impossible” level. There were many times I almost bit it, many times the dirt gave way just a second after I’d moved, many times I was praying for an inhaler. I thought it was humorous, as I was hiking, that I was being influences by positive peer pressure. If I had attempted that hike alone, and realized it’s difficulty, I would have turned back. Sure, I knew I COULD manage it (or at least, probably could), but I would not have the drive, support, or will to push myself, if I had been alone. Instead, with freshmen stacked like dominoes all around me, I was being willed upwards by everyone that surrounded me.
About midway through the hike up, Sarah pointed out a tiny cross sticking up against the skyline. “I wonder how you even get to that,” we wondered. Then we were distracted by some bovines.
We finally reached the highest “hill,” and were progressing upwards, slowly and perilously, when one of the guides told us to follow her on a different path. Being the sheeple that we are, we followed her obediently into a former trail that now seemed to have been replaced by a garden of brambles. It was scratchy and totally in-cabins, and if the person ahead of you was inconsiderate, you might have gotten hit with a face full of leaves. In fact, the entire way, I had to think about the people around me, holding branches for them and giving them a hand whenever they slipped. Once, I slipped and caused a large rock to fall on the girl in front of me. She almost tripped too, and was not too happy with me.
Upon exiting the gnarly thicket, we realized where we were: at the cross. It was a great moment. Once we reached the cross, we knew we had finally reached our destination. Our hike had a purpose. Looking down from the cross,we could see all the points that we had been—all the places we had thought were the final destination. They were far below us, and seemed so insignificant from that height. The cross, too, had changed with perspective. It was now much larger than us, towering at the top of the hill. I was winded, covered in dirt, and my legs looked like I had been in a knife fight with a dwarf, but I was really glad I had done it.
They way back was an adventure as well, somehow, we followed the wrong group, and the began yelling “turn back! turn back!” For a very short period of time, I became the leader of a small group of freshmen, and it was a frightening thought of leading them off into the unknown. Luckily, we heard a group and found our way back. It was a little frightening to not have a guide.
Once we were back, the campus seemed almost as flat at FC. Now, although the stairs are plentiful, I know I can handle much more. Another benefit was that we had become friends with our hiking buddies, even though they were all freshmen. We had bonded somewhere between the cows and the brambles. So, here are my cliché spiritual observations from the hike:
1. The journey is long and hard, don’t bring extra baggage.
2. No one said it would be easy. It might be harder than you thought, but they never called it easy.
3. You have to leave the comfort of home before you can climb, and sometimes that is harder than expected.
4. It’s easy to reach a high point and think that you are finished, that your struggle is complete, but there is always another mountain.
5. Having fellow travelers helps immensely. Someone to catch you, push you, and encourage you is vital on a moderate to hard hike.
6. You might see the cross, and think it is an unachievable goal, but it isn’t.
7. Your fellow travelers might lead you down the wrong path or put a stumbling block in your way, so you must keep alert (and considerate).
8. The cross is full of purpose, and much more meaningful once you get close to it.
9. Looking back down, you can see the path that you took, and the height you were at. It all makes a lot more sense from the cross.
10. It isn’t about looking cute, and wearing the fancy sweater is only going to slow you down. It’s about getting there, not how people see you along the way.
There is a water-routing cement style expanse on the side of one of the hills on campus (around the CCB). It kinda looks like a sidewalk, if you are a freshman. I have some “friends” who are going to put up a sign at the base of the irrigation thing tomorrow (on the first day of classes), reading “CCB shortcut.” It isn’t a short-cut, and the stairs are a much better option, but they are hoping to trick some freshmen into walking up the irrigation system and getting stuck.
Life is moderate to hard, and taking what they call a “shortcut” might just get you stuck.
Malibu is beautiful. Everyone here is nice. We are having some trouble adjusting, just because this is so much different than FC, and because we miss our friends a ton. Hopefully we’ll find our niches and be able to grow through this and be lights. For now, I’m just gonna keep climbing up the mountain. I’m not sure what is on the other side. I’m just really grateful for the fellow climbers that I have (both near and far) that pick me up when I stumble and sing to me when I need encouraged.
And yes, Sarah and I did sing “It’s the Climb” while trekking up a particularly difficult section.
And yes, I chose this particular video because Miley sounds like SHE just finished climbing a mountain.