Carving Mountains

Posted by: 
Klyn Elsbury

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” – Norman McLean

We planned on a modest hike, roughly 900 feet in elevation to the top of a ridge where we were promised a scenic waterfall. Except, by this time of year, there’s no guarantee the waterfall will be roaring.

The sticky heat caused beads of sweat to run down my chest and back, as I puffed on my albuterol. I blocked the pain in my muscles as I forced myself to slow my breathing, regulating my heart rate while I checked my bag for salt tabs.

Cystic fibrosis causes a sodium chloride imbalance and I ingest salt on hikes with the same fervor that I used to have for whiskey and diets on a Friday night. Okay, I still ingest that with great fervor, too. You caught me.

About a third of the way through the hike, I stop again to check my blood sugars. 136. Slightly higher than normal, but I know my body and know that if I don’t refuel, I will go into a terrifying diabetic low. So I suck on a gel pack of sugar, pressing one foot in front of the other as the dust stirs up against my heels on the trail.

I love the pain when I hike, because it reminds me how strong my body really is. I am not fast like other trailblazers. I’m obnoxiously slow. My backpack is littered with half a dozen medications to make sure I live through it. And my three pound dog is usually by my side, except when I convince my fiance it’s time for her to be carried. Her name is Chanel, after all.

This hike started like any other. A quick 4 miles to the waterfall, where I take on the dangerous decision to let my mind wander about all the wrong-turns I took in life, hoping to not miss the trail markers.

I’ve struggled with my place in life. Where do I belong? Do I belong?

I was a recruiter for ten years. Then, I started a recruiting company.

I shut it down because my passion was gone and I wondered if there was something more.

For a while I did sales training. Shut it down because, although I wanted to be like my wealthier friends who owned companies, I didn’t have the drive for quarterly report conversations like they did.

I was a Zumba instructor but didn’t have the lung function to teach my own classes well.

I created a social media marketing course (because everyone wanted to know how I had so many engaged followers). And then never promoted it.

There’s a desperation in my heart as the trail comes to end. I’m reminded of the finality of life and how all things eventually die, decay, and evolve. There’s more to life than paying bills and taxes, then dying.

I don’t want to be one of those people who wake up to work in an unfulfilling career only to receive enough income to go on working in an unfulfilled career. I don’t want this trail to end. I want to admire beautiful things, things I don’t understand. I want to see things grow and evolve and know that in some way, I played a part in that growth. 

I let out a dry cough, hopefully loosening and later expelling the mucus that’s riddled with another infection.

Where did I fit? Where can I grow?

I began really looking at the variety of trees, insects, plants on the dusty trail. And as I rounded a bend, the quiet cacophony of the forest ended and the sound of madly rushing water carving the canyon pierced my ears and silenced my thoughts.

Thousands, maybe millions of years ago, the water set out to carve it’s place in the world through rock, trees, and wilderness. It didn’t have it all figured out. It just flowed.

And as it flowed, it carved a life for all of Mother Nature's wonders in these mountains. As it gained in strength, the runoff gave life to the vast species around it.

Nourishing them. Revitalizing them.

A thousand different paths through this forest, lead to the top of one waterfall. Making every leaf, tree, forest, flora, and fauna beautiful in their own unrelated way.

And as I finish sucking up the sugar in my gel pack, it clicks for me.

You need all the parts of your journey to give your gifts to the world.

The expansive waterfalls remind me that life is an evolution of different strategies, ideas, and dreams…creating a unique journey for us to experience and hike through. Perhaps all the failures are designed to teach us how to carve our own path. All the pieces that never seemed to fit, strengthen us and our resolve, eventually giving life to others who are a bit lost on their own journey.

I check my blood sugars again and take another puff of the inhaler. 

One step at a time. 

The mist from the waterfall lands on my face as I get closer. And I realize for the first time, all the pieces align. 


  Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER- 



Klyn Elsbury lives in San Diego and is the CEO of MK Foundation. She speaks all over the United States on neuroscience tactics for teaching executives how to decrease stress and anxiety while increasing passion and purpose in their lives. She was diagnosed at birth with cystic fibrosis and developed a love for all styles of fitness. Currently, she enjoys spinning, hiking and has been known to occasionally teach a Zumba class.




***Views expressed in the CFLF Blog are those of the bloggers themselves and not necessarily of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation*** 

***Please speak with your physician before making any changes to your CF management***


To receive an e-mail notification and link to the new CFLF blog post each week please e-mail to be added to our list.



Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <h3> <h4> <h5>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Support CFLF