Rise & Grind

There’s few social media captions I hate more than anything including any form of #RiseandGrind. I could write paragraphs about this hate, but I’ll spare you. I mainly hate #RiseandGrind because it embodies the #hustle lifestyle, that bastardization of the good old American Dream that says working harder, not necessarily smarter, will raise you a couple of tax brackets. I personally believe this mentality is why so many people were conditioned to believe a businessman who’s manufactured a reputation as someone who’s constantly working had the business acumen to be President despite the fact that it can be argued that someone who works hard for just 4-6 hours a day is actually more productive and savvier than someone who works long days, but spends that time on frivolous, unfruitful endeavors (like say, planning and throwing large rallies to make up for the fact that your dad hated you), but that kind of crazy talk is going to take a lot of deprogramming to stick.

See? These are not succinct thoughts. Paragraphs, I tell you. I could go on and on and on.

What’s upsetting then, is that I’ve become the type of person who rises and grinds on my Saturday mornings, and it’s really starting to pay off.

It started the weekend of Halloween. I went out with some coworkers for a Friday happy hour. In my quest for good times and cheap drinks, I neglected to eat dinner and thus found myself ready for bed when I got home at 7:30. Naturally, since I went to bed at 7:30, my internal clock was messed up and I found myself awake the next day at 3:50 AM.

Since I’d already had my alarm set for 5 to hike Mt. LeConte in the Smokies early Saturday and was starving due to skipping dinner, I figured I might as well just get up, eat, and get on my way. All the reviews I read said if you don’t want to walk an extra half mile to the trailhead you need to get there by 8. If I left at 4, I’d get to the trailhead by 5:30, and be guaranteed prime parking and an empty trail.

I ended up starting my hike by 6:00. I wasn’t the only one in the parking lot, but I was one of a few. I hadn’t planned it this way at all, but this early start meant that I was two miles into the hike at the aptly named Inspiration Point with no one but one other hiker when the sun came up. It was spectacular.

Spectacular is an apt descriptor for the entire Mt. LeConte hike. I climbed Mt. Leconte via the Alum Caves trail and this is definitely at the top of the best hikes I’ve done since landing in North Carolina. Like my other favorite hikes, Black Balsam and Linville Gorge, this hike is gorgeous views the entire way up and back–11.2 miles of unobstructed Smoky views.

Just as I had Inspiration Point to myself, I also had both the summit of Mt. Leconte and Myrtle Point just for me. The more time I spend hiking down here, the more I realize just how special that is. The Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains are gorgeous, but they’re not remote, which is my one major complaint. On nice afternoons, you’ll almost always deal with crowds. In fact, once I reached the Alum Caves on my way back down, the trail got so crowded it became a pain. Two separate times I had to wait in bottlenecks for up to 10 minutes, both times because two separate groups of idiots decided to use the single person log bridges that cross the Alum Cave Creek for photoshoots while up to 20 people on each side patiently waited to cross; we may deserve the pandemic.

In a very thematically cohesive coincidence, I spent the bulk of my Mt. LeConte hike listening to WeCrashed: the Rise and Fall of WeWork podcast which chronicles the mess that was WeWork, a trendy shared workplace helmed by the exact types of people who would hashtag #RiseandGrind, an easy thing to do when people are throwing millions of dollars your way. It’s a pretty wild ride and if you’re more reader than listener, I suggest checking out this comprehensive, yet succinct summary or this bonkers profile of the founder’s wife which validates my personal belief to never trust the type of woman who talks incessantly and unironically about gratitude.

I pulled a rise for last weekend’s hike too and similarly beat the crowds. I got the summit of Looking Glass Rock to myself. This is my second time completing that hike. The first time I only spent a minute or so at the summit due to an influx of influencers in the wild. This time? Getting to the parking lot at 6:45 meant I was the first one there and got to sit solo at the top for 45 minutes.

#RiseandGrind may be annoying, but if we’re talking about hikes and not work/gym/pyramid schemes, it unproblematically works! I have to be careful now though. If not, I’m liable to be answering the call of the mountains and won’t stop exploring. Namaste.

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