Coach’s Corner Blog

The Importance of GRIT – My Recent Adventure in the Wild

September 13, 2017 by Leave a Comment

Wind River Mountain Range

There is an interesting Ted Talk about Grit, which is defined as having the passion and perseverance to invest in a pursuit of longer term results. The presenter is Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Grit requires stamina to stay with a task or cause. We are reminded that life is like a marathon, not a sprint.

I thought about this recently when I went on an adventure in the wilds of Wyoming to see the solar eclipse. My brother invited me in January and it sounded like lot of fun so I went all in.

I was with my brother and 8 of his friends and several of them had traveled here before. We were outfitted by a group from Lander, Wyoming and spent 6 days in the wilderness, highlighted by Monday’s viewing of the eclipse from Lizard Head Meadows in the shadow of Lizard Head Mountain.

Here are some facts about our trek and then we’ll talk about how Grit enters into this.

  • We were in the Wind River Mountain range and in the Shoshone National Forest.
  • The highlight was the Cirque of the Towers, a 270° ring of peaks and vertical walled ridges that encloses a large lake in a rocky basin. There was plenty of snow even in July. The scenery was breathtaking.
  • We hiked almost 40 miles in 6 days and the paths were strewn with rocks and tree roots – you literally had to watch where you placed every step. We forded over 20 streams / rivers, often walking thigh deep in frigid water.
  • Our elevation changed between 9,000 and 11,000 feet, and we covered about a mile up and down during this time on our daily hikes.
  • All our gear was carried in on 9 llamas and we spent the nights in tents under the stars. Our three guides were great.

This may have been the most physically grueling effort I have ever undertaken.

I am no longer a young man, but I did persevere and was proud to have weathered the challenge.

I do have a passion for hiking and camping and the scenery was beyond spectacular. I even made it to the Continental Divide at 11,000 feet at Jackass Pass.

I asked my brother why he had not prepared me better and he said he could not really describe this adequately and I think he was right.

Wind River Mountain Range 2

Our lead guide was Lucy, a 66 year old veteran who was our fearless leader. She had climbed Kilimanjaro, been on Everest and in the Iditarod in Alaska.

She was amazing.

However – and I didn’t figure this out until out last hike of 12 miles – when she said the end of our path was a “little up”, I thought that meant it was a gentle incline.


After 4 hours, we then climbed steeply for about 2 hours before we ever reach the summit to begin our descent.

Talk about perseverance.

I was really just thinking about a nice warm shower and a cold beer on that last hike to where we were picked up.

All in all, it was a fabulous adventure. I was pleased that I did it and proud of my endurance for my age. And if it sounds like it was a little dangerous, it was.

We did not discover until our last night on the trail that Lucy had a GPS transmitter with a red button on it for a critical emergency. None of us thought to ask before then and fortunately for us we never needed it.

I realize this is a long description of a wild week, but we all were passionate about our commune with nature and persevered a physically challenging effort.

Willy Hiking

When you think about the Grit you demonstrate in your work:

  • How do you overcome the fear that is inherent in tackling a large project with various unknowns in it?
  • Is your perseverance a matter of inspiration or perspiration? i.e. does the significance of the work drive you to perform or do you just put your head down and plow through it?
  • Have you ever developed a passion for an effort that you initially felt was just awful?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments section below.

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