I recently had the opportunity to take someone that was fairly new to hiking on an ass kicker of a day hike. I’m talking a pre-dawn start with the first nine miles being a 5000 ft. accent to a 10,800 ft. peak that just happened to have a thunderstorm sitting on it. After that, it was an eleven mile descent back down to the trailhead. Watching this person make the summit for the first time and swell with pride and confidence was one of the most real things I have seen in awhile. It really made me think of the power that the mountains have over our spirit. Through this person I relived a little of my first time on this peak as well, and that feeling is a gift from the mountain. The way down the mountain was no less inspiring than the way up. With the peak bagged, the weather improving, and nothing but "new trail" out in front of them, the pressure of the day was starting to lessen and the feeling of "it's all downhill from here" was in full effect. That's when the next real thing happened. I saw this person make the connection with the mountain. There was no longer a sense of caution about them. Now just a sense of acceptance from and graciousness toward the mountain was easily felt. And in that moment a hiker was born. Happy trails my friend and welcome to the club.