If you ever have the chance to hike up some of the mountains around Gaming at 5 A.M., I suggest you do it. Even though it’s very dark at 5 A.M. and only gets darker the further you walk into the trees. Even though the narrow trail is criss-crossed with roots and snakes back and forth at sharp angles. Even though you thought it was just a 45 minute hike, but then you realize that you’re only half-way up the mountain 45 minutes in, and your leader is booking it up as fast as he can because your group is supposed to be back on campus by 8.
Why? Why stumble through the dark with a few other crazy, sleep-deprived students? Why spend the entire hike wishing you had tied your shoes better, but didn’t want to stop because you didn’t want to be left behind? Why give up two hours of sleep on a night when you went to bed at midnight? Because every painful step was worth the view from the top. Every time I had to force myself to pick up my legs and push myself up was worth the feeling of accomplishment at the end.
Every minute spent wishing I was back in bed was a minute I was glad to have spent on Book Mountain.
Reaching the top, we all signed the book (hence the name, book mountain) and flipped through it to see who else had been there over the past year. Several Franciscan Households have trees carved with their symbols and names (mine was Daughters of Zion). And the morning sun shining through the trees warmed the cool morning air.
So, once again, if you ever get the chance to bumble your way up steep mountain trail, come back down at a half-jog, and jump into a shockingly cold creek at the end, I suggest you do it. Definitely no regrets from me.