Conquering My Everest

Today I did something I never thought I could do – I conquered Everest.  Not THE Everest, but my own personal Everest.

I think a little backstory is in order to understand the full impact of my experience today. When I was just starting my journey to getting healthy and about 50 pounds heavier, I went for a hike on a popular trail in Northern Los Angeles called Towsley Canyon Loop Trail. This was a very strenuous hike for me. There is little shade and lots of steep switchbacks that climb 1200 feet leading to the top of a 3,000 foot vista. The whole loop from the parking area is about 5.5 miles. When I first did this trail it was very hard and I huffed and puffed all the way up the hill.  I was determined to finish even if it killed me. Sometimes to my detriment I have a strong stubborn side and this side was in full force on that day.

I did the loop, but I think I was only half alive when I finished.  At the time I was very proud of my accomplishment, but I still knew I wasn’t fit enough to complete the trail without feeling completely exhausted and half dead when I was done.

Fast forward two years, and here we are today.  My brother and I were planning our regular weekend run, and when he asked where I wanted to go, I suggested the Towsley Canyon Loop.  He agreed.  It was going to be one of the longer continuous runs we had done.  It wasn’t until I was actually running on the trail did I remember the last time I had been on this trail, and how I felt back then.

Large oak trees and chaparral line parts of the Towsley Canyon Trail.

As I was keeping a consistent pace through the dry stream beds and over the rocky trail I felt such a sense of accomplishment.  Even though we had just started the run, I  felt so good about how far I had come.

One of the dry stream beds crossing the trail.

We decided to do the trail counter-clockwise which offered the steepest uphill switchbacks within the first two miles of the trail.  I did my best to keep a slow, but consistent pace.  There were some parts of the trail that were very narrow (about 24 inches) with a drop off to the canyon floor.  I took my time up the steepest parts, as safety was more important to me than speed.  I even took my own advice and took it down to a power walk with longer strides to manage the significant incline.

One of the steep inclines on the trail.

Once we hit the top I took a moment to take in the view and snap a couple pictures. It was going to be all downhill from here.  We went on our way down the mountain as the sun began to heat up.  We were now on the east side of the mountain with full sun on us as we made our way down the switchbacks.  It’s amazing how going down the hill is so much easier than going up!  I think I made up a lot of time with my downward pace.

One of the views from the top of the vista.

As we were passing many hikers heading up the hill I couldn’t help but glow inside knowing I had just conquered something that just a short time ago was so out of reach.
Just like Everest, this trail wasn’t about to let me get away with being cocky of my accomplishment.  There always needs to be a healthy respect for nature and how powerful it can be.

I was about 10 yards from the entrance of the trail and practically running on air.  Another runner was just getting on the trail and heading past me.  I lost my focus for a split second as he passed me, and caught my foot on a rock sticking out of the hard-packed dirt trail.  I did a really lame cool ninja roll onto my right side.  I looked back to see the runner who passed me completely oblivious that I had just met the dirt and my brother was ahead of me enough to not realize I had just gone down.  I laughed out loud a little because of irony in it all.  I got up, dusted myself off and kept going.  I finished the run in a about 1:15.  It wasn’t the best time compared to others, but it was an amazing time for me.  Other than being covered in dust and dirt on half of my body, I made it out unscathed.

A little dirty, but it’s all good.

As I look back on that run I will always remember it as the day I conquered my Everest.  And it has shown me that no matter how hard I think something is today, with the right attitude and training it can be possible tomorrow.

Chris and Laurie after completing the Towsley Canyon Loop Trail



    I just needed to say Laurie you are a great inspiration to me and many other people. Way to go on your Everest. I love you sis.

  2. YOU ARE AWESOME, a great inspiration for me.

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