We had a similar experience after Mike's dad passed away a few years ago. Except that time instead of the stress of student teaching and final months of a graduate program, Mike was dealing with the stress of being unemployed for eight months. I needed an adventure then too, but I needed it to be alone. I know this might sound terrible, but the burden of helping someone out of mourning coupled with the burden of being the only one bringing in an income was just too much. I needed some selfish time but was afraid to ask for it. One night that winter I came home to find the Sierra Club's outing page up on the computer. Mike, knowing me better than I know myself at times, sat me down in front of it and told me to go. A few months later I left New York and spent twelve days away. Eight of them in the wilderness of the High Sierras. With ten strangers. And a lot of nothingness. It was amazing. And slightly terrifying.
On the first day of hiking, after a long uphill climb to our resting spot for the night, I fell up a boulder as I tried to maneuver my footing. I slipped forward, and the weight of the 50 pound backpack forced me into the rock. My knee hit first, hard, and I stayed down and shuffled over to the side to let the rest of the group by. There was blood, and a pounding that started in my knee and elbow then traveled to my head, to the space behind my eyes that would normally trigger tears. I managed not to cry.
I got myself up and moved a few more feet to flat ground where some members of the group were setting up our kitchen while others were staking their claim to a tent site for the night. I found mine up another short climb and then met our leader down at the lake to get cleaned up and bandaged. Afterward I took out my journal and started to write. And I wrote that I wanted to go home. I hurt, I was tired, and I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to make the hike the next day, one of the toughest of the week, up and over Mono Pass.
I don't think I fully believed it yet, but by the time I finished writing I had told myself that I could do this, and made the decision to stay. The next morning two women decided to leave, and as I watched them make their way down and away from us, I realized it could have been me, and was proud that it wasn't.