Some of us were told that the challenge we faced was impossible to complete. We were told that it was too difficult; the hike too long, the trail too steep, and our resolve too weak. Despite the doubts by skeptics, we decided to push onward. Instead of saying “it’s impossible,” we went out there and did the impossible. Every step we took that morning, we strode towards the impossible. As individuals, the many slips and falls might have overcome our resolve, but together, our spirits could not be dampened.

At one point, one of the first year students was ready to give up. He kept saying, “there’s no way I can do 50km!” Then I asked him, “what about 5km to the next checkpoint? Then you can decide again.” When we had progressed 5km, he said again, “I can’t continue.” I asked him to remember that just 5km earlier, he had been convinced he couldn’t continue, but he had made it another 5km. He went on to complete both hikes. Ultimately, it is not what you say that matters; real difference is made from what you choose to do.

Our journey that day was a perfect metaphor for life. We started out late, on a tight schedule, hiked through adversity, challenges, and injuries. On our way up Panorama Ridge, we went off-trail to avoid snow so we could make our way up. At the base of the Black Tusk, every step we took we slipped a half step back. There are many lessons in life that we can draw from our experience hiking this challenging journey:

  • If we work hard enough, we will get high enough to have a clear view of how spectacular the world is;
  • Sometimes for us to persevere we need someone to push us and walk with us through the thickets into the clearing;
  • Giving up on a journey before you can behold its true beauty in full is very unfortunate;
  • The road of life is not simply straight and paved;
  • No one ever starts on equal footing, or with the same timelines;
  • Sometimes we have to go off-trail to get around obstacles;
  • Sometimes it feels like we aren’t making progress at all, even when we work with diligence.

At the end of the journey, I shared with the group: when you encounter adversity in your life, remember this experience, and how in 12 hours we beat the odds by choosing to complete a challenge thought to be impossible. Most importantly, I asked that they do not forget the importance of the connections we made with each other that day, and never hesitate to ask each other for help and support each other when needed as the months and years go by.

Coast Mental Health believes that by working together, we can demonstrate that lasting recovery from mental illness is possible. Coast Mental Health Foundation provides support to people, clubs, and organizations throughout the lower mainland who are inspired to use their creativity, energy, and networks to fundraise in support of people working to recover their lives from mental illness in our community. To learn how you can host a fundraiser to support Coast Mental Health to change lives, visit here: