“Keep up! Only a few more miles to go buddy,” my cousin called back to me, he was tall, two years older than me, and does trips like this all the time. Ever since I was 7 or 8, my Dad and I have gone on an annual backpacking trip with my cousins to the Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. I was 14 this year and  my cousin was encouraging me, as always, to try and keep up with him leading the pack. This time I was determined to maintain the same rapid pace he always used going up the mountain.

    I struggled my way behind him the whole way but I kept him in my sights and that was good enough for me. The signs passed by, strewn at what seemed like random intervals throughout the forest, “8 Miles… 4 Miles… 2.5 Miles…,” and finally,”1 Mile.” Never had I ever been so overjoyed to see a sign. I could see the end of the trail and the bright light where the treeline stopped and the top of the mountain began. My cousin slowed down and let me pull up at his side and said the greatest words I had ever heard, “Good job dude, look… there’s the summit.” Seeing that summit with my cousin marked one of my highest accomplishments, I had proved myself to my cousin and as a result, “summit” was firmly cemented in my head for the rest of my life.


CC BY-SA 4.0 To The Top by Andrew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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