I love traditions; they keep me connected with others, enrich my life and remind me that I always have something to be grateful for. When I was in high school, a friend and I decided we were going to start our own Fourth of July tradition.
Every Fourth, she and I would wake up early and hike to the top of Mt. Rose, which remains one of the best hikes in the Reno area. In the winter it is a very popular ski resort frequented by locals. In the summertime, the snow melts and the mountain becomes so alive. Because we live in a high desert, there are a lot of bleak brown mountain ranges that surround our little valley. However, when you enter the Toiyabe National Forest, which houses Mt. Rose, you are entering a world of color and aromas set off by varied plant life.
The 10,776-foot Mt. Rose is a perfect mountain to climb for conditioning. In high school I remember running up this beautiful mountain to get in shape for upcoming races. The 11-mile hike up and back will punish your calves; I have felt the burn every day following a Mt. Rose hike.
For this reason, Mt. Rose is beautiful to avid hikers. Yet this wondrous peak also holds enough natural beauty for hikers of all calibers to admire. In the springtime, the wild flowers are radiant and the pine trees give off the fresh scent that laundry detergents strive to mimic. The trees are all still damp from the snowy winter and the new growth on them looks like little fluorescent green fingernails.
Catching the snowmelt, the main waterfall that you pass on your hike up roars like it has just been awakened from a long nap and is on a mad dash to reach its destination.
Despite having climbed to the peak of Mt. Rose countless times, it is still one of my favorite hikes. Maybe I am bias because I am a fourth generation Nevadan, and Mt. Rose has been home to many of my favorite recreational activities, or maybe the mountain is just that gorgeous.
Though my friend and I have moved on in our lives, I have continued hiking Mt. Rose with my husband and family. Some summers we will hike the peak in the morning than float on inner tubes down the Truckee River in the hot afternoon. It makes for a long, exciting, tradition-filled day.
This brings me to what I love about traditions: They are so wonderful to share with friends and family. I am so thankful for the friend that I started the Independence Day tradition with, and I am grateful for the people with which I now carry it through. I find that starting traditions is healthy because it is a good way to create a bit of balance in my life. Annual traditions give me something to look forward to and something to share with others.
In 2013 my grandfather on my mother’s side started showing stages of dementia, which led to Alzheimer’s disease. My grandfather was one of the men I admired the most; he has always been a pillar in our family.
He has achieved things that most people of his generation would see as unthinkable—or maybe I just admire him so much because I see what he has done as unthinkable. We all have someone in our lives that we find inspirational and it is very difficult to watch their flame begin to flutter.
His grandparents emigrated from Italy and Ireland and he was raised on the Wholey Ranch in the little town of Austin, Nevada. He did not graduate from high school, yet retired as president of First Federal Bank in Reno. A Marine, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather, he carried a bucket of accomplishments. He has since passed.
It makes you realizes that all the achievements in the work world, personal life and social life can be forgotten just as easily as the small, irrelevant things.
So many of us often worry about where we are going to be tomorrow and what we did yesterday, when really we should concentrate on being thankful for the now.
Traditions can be—and often are—achievements.
I ask myself quite often, How do I reach a present peace of mind? I have tried many tactics, and I guess I am always on the search to achieve balance with family, friends, professional goals and personal health. Hiking, for me, acts as a form of meditation and prayer to me—a way to find balance and reconnect.
I find that when I am out in the wilderness I am the most connected to my inner being, my soul if you will. When you connect mind and body, it can be an exhilarating experience.
Hiking will always be a tradition for me. I love it so much that even when I look at still photos of times I have spent on a mountaintop I get excited and I remember the things that matter most to me. If we can remember to be grateful for the little things like traditions, waterfalls and the aromas of the plant life, then perhaps we have achieved what is important in life.
What traditions have you created with your loved ones? Please share in the comments below.