Paul’s car swooped into a parking spot in the corner of an empty lot.
We stepped out into the late-summer evening. The fragrance of herbs and forest filled our noses.
Dusk was fast approaching, and the forest had a spooky quality.
We made our way to the trailhead.
Standing there surveying the wooded valley below, we witnessed a dense fog beginning to form. The temperature was dropping as quickly as the sun dipping out of site behind the hills.
Our decent was quick and quiet. Carefully, we worked our way down a single track trail to the valley floor.
The path curved along a handful of massive concrete pylons.
“This one,” I stated.
Looking up, Paul and I craned our necks to see 4 iron legs reaching up into the fog and beyond.
He boosted me up to reach the top edge of the pylon 10 feet above the forest floor. I scramble up, heart racing.
This was the first barrier. The first test of my resolve.
“I don’t know, man. You sure you want to do this?” Paul laughed nervously as I looked down at him.
“I have to,” was my only reply.
The light was fading quickly. I had to move.
I inspected the giant, rusty ironwork in front of me. It was one of the numerous legs supporting a very old (built 1900) and tall (301 feet) railway bridge.
And so began my ascent. Methodically, intentionally: Hand, now foot, next hand, repeat.
Quickly rising above the tree tops, I reached the fog bank in a short time.
Inside this low cloud everything was darker and quieter. I took a brief rest and wondered how Paul was doing down below.
On the move again, eventually I popped up through the top of the fog.
Covered in rust. Sweaty. Awed by the beauty that stretched out in every direction.
Clouds below. Iron leg stretching up and up.
Continuing my ascent, I kept my mind clear. I had to. No room for fear.
It was too dangerous for fear. I couldn’t afford to let my mind and emotions get away from me.
Focus. Clarity. Exhilaration. Flow.
I got into a rhythm. My breathing became steady.
It’s hard to describe exactly how I felt when I reached the top. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there.
I noticed a very old t-shirt tied around a piece of rusty iron, and had a little laugh at myself. I mean, I hadn’t really thought about whether there were others that did this before me.
It was really getting much darker now. I still had the climb down.
After basking in my achievement and enjoying the view for a few more moments, I began to carefully place my foot. One of hundreds of steps that would carry me safely to the bottom again.
I needed something that night.
Did this give it to me? Not really.
I needed so much more.
Climbing that bridge was a powerful physical metaphor for things that needed to happen in my life.
Challenges that were quickly approaching.