Well, when we got there, I was in for a surprise. It was a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be. I had expected the straight uphill climb, the rocky uneven pathways, the heat, and the switchbacks. What I didn't anticipate.........was the stairs. I don't like stairs. Although my knees have gotten better as I've been working hard to get into better shape, they still take a beating on stairs. So I was a little disheartened when we got to the top of the climbing slopes, to see our first set of 74 steep concrete steps. I powered up them the best I could, got to the top and saw that we needed to continue through a long dark inclined narrow tunnel. Once we got through that, with my heart pounding through my chest, my breathing out of control, and my vision blurring, I saw the next set of stairs. That's when I had serious doubts that I was going to finish.
In front of me was a steep climb of 99 steps, around 4 stories, straight up. I sat down for a second on a lookout area at the bottom of the climb, and prayed. With the help of the Lord, and the voice of my sister in the back of head nagging "quit being so dramatic and just do it!!", I powered up the 99 steps, then another 52 steps of a steep spiral staircase, and finished off with a final 54 at the top. Just about the time almost puked, we made it to our destination. It felt great. I was pouring sweat and breathing like a 75 year old emphysema patient. But after taking a look around, I saw that a lot of people were, so I didn't feel so weak then.
The view was of course beautiful, but I'd seen so many pictures of the view before, I pretty much knew what to expect. The great view didn't compare with the feeling of pride that I had. On the way back down I saw people struggling to make it up and I knew what they were thinking to themselves just by the looks on their faces. So I offered up a few "You're almost there"s to some of them.
Once we finally made it near the bottom, it started sprinkling. Chris and I began taunting the weather, "You call this rain?!", and then it started pouring. By the time we got back to the car I was soaked through. This was a bit problematic, because we only had a couple of hours until we needed to meet up with our LOST tour, and the only extra clothes I had brought with me was a dress. It was over a 2 hour round trip drive to go back to our hotel and change. That wasn't going to happen with traffic, so instead we were able to find a Walmart and I ended up buying a whole new outfit.
So I guess the biggest thing I learned from this whole experience was that if you work really hard, stay focused on your goal, and see it to completion, you'll be rewarded with cute new clothes!!