In my previous post about trails I’ve enjoyed hiking in and around Phoenix I mentioned Piestewa Peak. Piestewa Peak (previously named Squaw Peak) is named after Army Specialist Lori Ann Piestewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe in Arizona, who’s the first known Native American woman to die in combat in the US military and the first female soldier to be killed in action in the 2003 Iraq War. Piestewa Peak is a local favorite and the perfect hike for sunrise. Not only can you see for miles in all directions and watch the beautiful sun coming up over mountains in the distance, there is a community of people that will join you at the top. Among that community there is a guy that makes this climb every single morning to the top to play his drum and flute while the sun rises. It’s a spiritual practice for him rooted in giving thanks and feeling the suns first cleansing rays and it is beautiful to witness. I’ve been to the top a few times for sunrise and this last time a few weekends ago I got to thinking about his dedication to this practice.
I’ll walk through some logistics to underscore how impressive it is that he makes this journey every morning.
- This hike is short but steep: 1 mile up with 1000 ft. of elevation gain over that mile to the top. It’s also very rocky and can be hard on your joints.
- To make it to watch sunrise during this season you have to be to the top of the mountain by 5:15am. I don’t know how far away he lives or how long it takes him to make the climb but I have to be on trail by 4:45am to make it up in time and he is always at the top, set up, by the time I get there. This means he starts his day at 4am or earlier in order to make it to the trailhead in time to climb this mountain in the dark and perform this morning ritual. Every single day.
- The sunrise waits for no one! He has no choice but to be on time or else he’ll miss it. If I’m 5 minutes late to the trailhead and cutting sunrise close, I have to run up the mountain to make sure I catch it.
Not only is this dedication of time, but also physical energy and mental strength to continue this day after day. There are a million excuses he could make as to why he could miss a morning whether it’s physical tiredness or he wanted to sleep in or he just didn’t feel like it but he doesn’t. He continues to show up each and every morning, on time, for sunrise. When I think of the commitment and dedication he has for this act I’m blown away.
For me witnessing this, it begs the question: Have I ever been so dedicated or committed to something in my life that I wouldn’t miss a day of it? I’m not sure I have. Some examples in my life where I should be this committed but am not are:
- My faith: I haven’t been committed to a spiritual practice every day
- Working out or moving my body: I miss a day of working out or moving and don’t think much of it
- Eating habits: I’m not consistent with fueling my body with proper nutrients to enable me to live the long life I want
- Social Media use: Much greater than it should be
- Work: I can get distracted or unmotivated during working hours and not use that time efficiently
- Positive mentality: It’s easy for me to get sucked into negative thought patterns, worrying or complaining
In all of these examples there is always a reason or an excuse that I make to justify missing the mark on these practices. I claim that the practices above are important to me but not important enough for me to make excuses to not try my hardest daily to achieve them. Watching someone else’s dedication and success is convicting because it is something I can achieve should I make all of my decisions each day to enable this achievement.
I never spoke to this man but I am very inspired by his dedication. Inspiring others through how you live your life, in my opinion, is the greatest way to lead.
So, this hike is special and if you go early enough to enjoy sunrise from the summit, you can witness a man’s complete and utter dedication to his spiritual practice. Maybe it will inspire you, like it has me, to try to live life with more purpose and dedication to certain activities that I know will lead to success and a greater sense of purpose in my own life.
Until the next tale… Happy trails.