“Your path may not have been easy so far but just remember that the most beautiful views come after the most courageous climbs. Keep climbing, your beautiful view is waiting.”I went for my first REAL hike a couple of days ago. I’m calling this one “real” as in it consisted of mountains, three to be exact. Sure, I’ve hiked a lot and up other smaller mountains but what this one was was different.
We had been planning this particular hike for over a month. If it wasn’t one thing that had come up it was another, life events, bad weather, you name it, something kept pushing our plan to hike further and further away. Finally though, the day had come. I was so excited I couldn’t even sleep the night before. Even knowing that I had to be up and ready to go by 4am didn’t phase me. At 1:30am that morning I just lay there wide awake, anticipating the day ahead. I was so eager that had I not run trails the day before making my sneakers a little dirty I would have even slept in them. When we finally arrived at Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire it was breathtaking. Believe it or not even living only a few short hours away I had never once seen it with my own eyes. I was in awe at the magnitude. I practically was face pressed against the car window, wide-eyed and grinning ear to ear like a child arriving at Disney World for the first time. Little did I know this was only the beginning.
Let me first say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was told, “Three peaks in one day is totally doable”. As someone who hasn’t ever really hiked even one peak like these, just went along with it. Who knew three peaks literally meant seven hours of up and down, up and down, up and down, sliding down wet rocks on your bottom, trying desperately not to be blown off of a mountain top by a 45mph wind gust, feeling like you’ve just aged 40 years in a matter of minutes with back aches, feet aches, aches in places I didn’t even know could ache, the issue with being a female and having no restroom in sight for hours (yes it sucks) and yet so much gratitude for this beautiful planet that I can’t even find the right words for. When we reached the top of Little Haystack, the first and smallest peak, I was blown away (also literally as it was quite windy). The view was like nothing I had ever seen before. The mountains upon mountains all around me as far as my own eyes allowed me to see was mesmorizing. I felt so small. It was in that moment that I could feel my breath catch in my throat and I carefully mouthed the words, “thank you”. I can’t even tell you who or what I was thanking. All I knew was at that very moment I felt at peace and it seemed appropriate to thank someone or something for it. It was as if every bump, every turn, every up, every down, every laugh, every cry, every single moment in my existence suddenly had come together to mean something. Everything that led me up to this very place was a part of me and only me. It was as though that hike symbolized the past 32 years of me climbing up through life, struggling along the way, exhausted at times, frustrated with not knowing how much farther I had to go, losing motivation and still all the while enthusiastic to reach the top. Then, just like that, there I was, at the peak. I could stand there looking out at the world and realize why all of that was worth it. Every bit of who I had become during that climb could now not only see the beauty around me but appreciate all I was seeing because of what it required of me to reach it. Feeling purposeful and meaningful, even though small and insignificant against this massive planet is a humbling feeling. Each one of us has our story that from the top of a mountain can tell from our own hearts. Being able to believe that the unknown climb to the top is worth the struggle really is worth every bit of it. Knowing that there will be even bigger mountains and even more beautiful views as you continue on your journey is every reason to keep climbing no matter what. Your journey never really ends once you reach the top but it does give you a moment to stop, take in the view and realize just how worth it life really is.
We did continue to climb that day after reaching the first peak at Little Haystack. Our journey went on to reach the top of Lincoln Mountain and then finally the tallest one, Lafayette Mountain. I still can’t quite grasp the beauty of it all. Even pictures don’t do it justice. It truly is something to be experienced in person not only in a physical sense but also in a spiritual one. The sights, the sounds, the energy from other climbers, the laughs along the way, everything about it is truly just unbelievable.
I can’t wait to go again.
This Zucchini Banana Bread is the best (in my humble opinion, of course)! It’s free of all the not so good stuff but definitely doesn’t lack in texture or flavor. It’s a great way to use up all of that zucchini you have growing in your garden, too. It makes a great on-the-go breakfast or snack slathered with nut or seed butter. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Zucchini Banana Bread
Makes: 1 loaf or 16 muffins/Prep time: 5 minutes/Bake time: 45 minutes
- 2 eggs
- 2 large bananas (2 mashed- about 1 1/2 c worth)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 c gluten-free all purpose baking flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 GF Baking Flour)
- 3/4 c old fashioned gluten-free oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 c grated zucchini*
- Optional add-ins: chocolate chips, walnuts, sliced banana for topping
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray or grease a loaf pan (I used an 8x4in pan for a taller loaf) or line a muffin tin with paper liners if making muffins and set aside.
- In a large stand mixing bowl (or you can use a hand mixer) combine the eggs, 2 bananas and vanilla and mix on medium until well blended.
- In a separate smaller bowl whisk together the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder and sea salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly on medium speed.
- Fold in the grated zucchini and additional add-ins if using.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and using a spatula or the back of a spoon smooth out.
- Bake loaf for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool before slicing.
Note: To keep, store the bread in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to enjoy.
*Zuchinni adds a lot of moisture so you can squeeze out the excess water once grated in a cheese cloth or kitchen towel before adding to the batter.
Nutrition: (per slice of loaf without add-ins if loaf is cut into 8 slices- will vary if made into muffins) 141 cal/ 1.5g fat/ 22g carbs/ 4g sugar/ 4g protein