The "small" granite patch of mountains in the background of this picture is known as Castle Crags. Four years ago, they were the highest peaks I'd ever climbed, and the highest summit I believed I was capable of reaching.
After yesterday's feat on Shasta, you can see my self-judgement was wrong.
As I look back on the times that I held such thoughts, I'm surprised by the difference between what I could accomplish then and what I can accomplish now.
I expected the strength of my body to be the differentiating factor between my summiting of Mount Shasta and what I could summit back then. But the difference was actually in what I believed.
Am I physically stronger? Maybe a little. But my will and what I believe I'm capable of is far from what it was.
Four years ago, I believed Castle Crags was as high as I could ever go.
Was it true?
But back then?
It was... because I allowed it to be.
Subconsciously, I chose that peak as my limit.
I grabbed ahold of it and held on to it tightly as an identity to live from. In complacency's embrace, I had the choice to take what I'd accomplished on Caste Crags and say it was enough, and that I didn't need to push myself any further.
Once I had the thought, I knew I had to climb Shasta.
Four years ago I made a list and began to look higher. And one by one I summited taller peaks around Northern California: Lassen, Grizzly Lake, Shasta Bally, Broke Off Mountain... Until there was only one mountain left on my list to summit.
Yesterday, four years later from that day on Castle Crags, I stood on the top of Shasta's summit and looked down from above the clouds upon the peak of Castle Crags, upon the man who once held these thoughts, and upon the journey I took to get to where I was standing.
I remembered how little I use to believe I was capable of.
I remembered how little amount of discomfort I use to be willing to endure before I would tap out and say it was enough.
I remembered how much I limited myself.
Today, when I look in the mirror, I see a different man. Not in outward appearance (though, I do have a beard now), but in heart, at my core, I am radically different. For I guard what I believe about myself. I run boldly at the whispers in my head that try to tell me "I can't." And I hold little fear of the pain that comes when you try to find your end.
On my journey to the top of this mountain, I learned that when I dream, the only limitations I have are the ones I choose to place on myself.
I am done limiting myself by my beliefs, self-judgements, and perceptions of who I am.
I see now, that the limitations I thought I had were only true because I allowed them to be, not necessarily because they were my reality.
In seeing the ramifications of my small beliefs, rather than fearing what I might believe of myself in the future, I now encourage and challenge what I believe I can do.
I fear not testing my end, and I fear not the pain of failing and trying.
After this four year journey of summiting Mount Shasta, I now see the world and my dreams differently- as new summits to climb. And with enough time, hard work, and patience, I believe I can do anything I set my mind to.
Because again, the only limitations I have in this life are the ones I choose to place upon myself.
Photo credits: Erik Olsen
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Summit 14,179 feet
The view from the top of Misery Hill, before turning to walk the summit platuea.
Walking the summit platuea.
Hiking up Red Banks, around 5 am.
Approaching the summit.