I have been eyeing a certain Island. it’s an Island on an Island ….super cool huh? Its uninhabited except for a pair of bald eagles ….even cooler right? This Island (pictured below center front) is in the middle of Lake Campbell on Fidalgo Island just south of Anacortes, WA. I’ve paddled this lake before. I remember being all bundled up against the cold and not feeling very adventurous so I stored the idea of climbing this island for a later day.
Well today was that day! I packed up all my gear and headed out. Not too many people at the lake. The sun was fighting a thin layer of clouds and a easterly breeze made standing on my board a little unsteady so I sat or kneeled as I paddled out. Life jacket – check, whistle – check, paddle – check.. oh crap…I forgot shoes! I usually paddleboard bare foot but hiking or climbing – no way!
That was when I heard the first “WHAT IF?” What if you do it barefoot? I mean, Native American’s did it and so do those crazy people on Naked & Afraid! If they can do it maybe I can too!” Choice #1 Continue paddling out!
The island is not very welcoming. It’s basically just a big, huge rock that climbs steeply up from the lake. No maintained dock or trails. When I finally found the only spot that would work, I gingerly stepped out onto the craggy rocks and surveyed possible routes to the top of the knoll. I tied my board to a nearby tree and headed up and to the right. After about 8 rough climbing steps I came to an impasse. There was a large blackberry bush in my path, no hand holds to go around it and a steep rock wall to my left.
“Now what?” I thought, “I might not be able to climb any higher today. Maybe I should come back another day with shoes? Maybe being out here alone isn’t such a great idea.” And then I heard it again, “WHAT IF you find another route and keep going? You’re not in a hurry. You’ve got all day. You can take your time and go slow. You will be disappointed if you don’t at least try?”Choice #2 Find a new route and keep going!
I turned around and made my way back down to my board and then turned to the left, climbed over a prostrated tree and found a rocky, shale filled crevice that looked passable. I screwed up my courage and went for it, hand holds, toes gripping the rocks, pushing bushes out of my face, moss sliding off of my hand holds, staying low against the rocks and fought my way up about 30 feet to the first moss covered shelf and then I stood up! OMG I had done it! I couldn’t believe it!
As I stood there surveying the view I heard it again. “Now you’re here, WHAT IF you climb all the way to the top? I bet it’s a great view!” My courage was in full swing after my successful climb so I answered “hell yeah!” and headed on up the hill. Choice # 3 Go all the way! Stepping gingerly around thorny bushes and holly leaves I wound my way higher and higher – slowly of course, sometimes tip toeing over rough patches, robins egg shells and lots and lots of goose poo.
As I reached the top of the hill I felt a huge rush of adrenaline and accomplishment! Life is like that isn’t it? It can be rough and challenging. We can have rocky starts but work our way through them, sometimes we fall and have to get back up but above all we get to choose. We can choose to get negative, give up and go home or we can listen to the WHAT IF voice that gives us other, positive options. We can keep moving forward, keep trying, look for another path!
I explored the island a bit and took some time to contemplate the day, the adventure and how I felt but all to quickly it was time to make my way back down to the water and my board. I made it safely. I did leave a little blood on the island thanks to the blackberry bushes I tried to climb over. I think going down is easier than climbing up. But maybe that’s because I went down mostly on my butt and gravity was on my side! LOL. I was really happy to see this view when I reached the bottom!
I had a great adventure today. As I sat in the sun, on that island I felt accomplished. I did it. I didn’t let myself quit. I kept going. I was proud of myself. Who knows what we are capable of accomplishing? Its like that famous saying, “What if I fail? But what if you soar?” The choice is yours. I hope you choose to Soar!!!!!!