Take a Hike from I Can’t to Why Can’t I?

This is dedicated to my big brudder, Michael McGinnis and his lovely wife Judy, who unknowningly inspired me to do something I never thought I’d ever even WANT to do….

I wasn’t always overweight.  I used to be accused, half-heartedly, of being a closet anorexic because I was so thin in my older teens young adulthood.  Except by my dad, who was always compelled to call me “Porky” and say I was fat.  Go figure that one out and tell me if it makes sense….nah, didn’t think so.

Anyway, even in those thin glory days, I was never one who wanted to do much when it comes to physical exercise.  I was not into any kind of exertion at all. I would walk the mile run in phys ed class.  I never wanted to climb the cargo net (still don’t want to do that, too scary).  I was not a strong bike rider or swimmer.  My talents lay primarily in reading books, watching bad television, and fishing.

My husband and I went camping in Shenandoah National Park when we first got married.  He wanted to climb Stony Man Trail (2.9 miles up and back)…. and we did, and I thought I was going to die.  He pushed me, come on you can do it…but I hated every minute, until we got to the top.  (This was in the days before I had a digital camera, sorry, no pic at this point.)  Even though I enjoyed the view, I said that I never wanted to do that again.  Ever.  Of course, I was pregnant at the time (didn’t know that until about 3 weeks later) so maybe that had something to do with my experience.

Then the years went by, children came….as did the pounds. One thing that never came was a desire to exercise beyond walking the dog, and even that was questionable.

And here I am.  Since I began my new lifestyle, I’ve lost a few pounds but I am still considered obese. My progress has been slow.  But, my interest in physical exercise has been increasing.    I became concerned about my family history of arthritis and I did not want to end up a cripple like my grandfather.

Then my brother posted a picture of him and his wife – they had just climbed on Rattlesnake Ledge in Washington state overlooking a beautiful place called Rattlesnake Lake.  It became a touchstone for me. I wanted to go there, I wanted to do that.

But how? I’m obese, my feet hurt if I walk too far for too long….and yeah, I’m obese. Obese people just don’t climb mountains, even small ones.

At that point in time, I decided to remove “I can’t” from my vocabulary and replace it with “Why can’t I?”

Not Quite There Yet

Not Quite There Yet

We went to Washington to visit my brother. I have been there before – 20+ years ago…and I loved the mountains…and I still love the mountains.

The climb up the little mountain was 1.9 miles from the base to the ledge…but overall the entire walk we did was about 5.4 miles from the car to the top and back again.  WAY more than Stony Man.

This is not a difficult trail, in fact it is considered “easy” but it was a challenge for me.

There were skinny women in sports bras actually running up and down this mountain and I resisted the urge to stick my chubby leg out and trip them.  We smiled as we passed one another.

There were little children climbing this mountain, if they could do it, so could I. There were little tiny dogs with 3-inch long legs…but their owners were carrying them. I had nothing but determination to carry me.

I did see several Labradors on this trail and I sorely missed my Trixie-girl.  She is as strong as an ox and could certainly tug me up the steeper slopes while my lungs screamed out “MERCY! MERCY!”

But…I made it.  I was overcome with joy when I reached the top – not only joy and pride at what I had just accomplished, but joy at seeing the beautiful creation below me. What a beautiful world – and I’m determined to see as much of it as I can before I leave it.

I came, I climbed, I conquered!  If I can do it, so can you…don’t let “I Can’t” keep you from doing it. You can ….

Rattlesnake Ledge Conquered

I Came, I Climbed, I Conquered

My Brother and Me

My Big Brudder and Me On Rattlesnake Ledge


7 thoughts on “Take a Hike from I Can’t to Why Can’t I?

  1. Karen thank you for sharing your inspiring journey!

    It was a pleasure to see the pictures in Seattle last week. I am so very proud and happy for you that you’ve managed to change the inner voice you have from I can’t to Why can’t I? That’s a fabulous step in the growth direction.

    You are an inspiration to all and I’m proud to know you personally and call you a close friend.

    I am very happy for you and hope you will continue to grow all your life and continue to share your ups and downs with us. They are so inspiring to everyone.

    Almost all of us have negative thoughts running through our heads (some of us, every day) It’s up to us to make the change from “I can’t” to “I can”. Or, if we are very unsure then “Why can’t I?” or something like “I think I can!”, until we gain the confidence you gained once you climbed Rattlesnake Ledge!

    Congratulations on your “growth spurt” and I hope it continues the way you want it to!
    You are a true inspiration to us all!

    See you soon around home instead of across the country!
    ~Julie R. Bechthold

  2. I’m sitting here in the dreary Seattle winter drizzle, searching for local hikes on the internets, and randomly stumble across this blog post. I loved, loved, loved reading this…and now you’ve inspired me to get off this couch and go outside in that dreary drizzle, because I can. Thank you!

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