On Sunday I woke up in so much pain.
I'm pretty sure every joint and muscle group in the lower half of my body was throbbing. I had a rash on one knee and a huge scrap on my left shin that didn't look as big or as infected and definitely did not hurt as much. My toes were bruised, my feet were tired, my knee was angry. I even had a bruise on my right cheek. My upper body was a little scratched up as well and my upper back was raging, considering I carry all my stress there and I've been pretty stressed out the last few months, I'd spent about 18 hours driving in the past week and a half and I'd been carrying a fairly heavy backpack for 11 hours. Plus I was sunburned, exhausted and had a mild yet persistent headache. And I did all this to myself. Voluntarily. Theoretically, it was for fun.
Climbing a mountain is an, ahem, interesting experience. But it's three days later, and while some of the scrapes and bruises are still there, the dirt and blood are washed away and the soreness is pretty much gone, but the goofy grin on my face whenever I see the mountain and think exultantly, "I climbed THAT!" is still very much there.
I'd do it again, even knowing how much it could hurt. My coworker called it hiking amnesia, which is pretty accurate. The body and brain totally don't categorize pain properly; either it's way built up so you think something not that bad is going to be horrendous (getting jabbed with a needle, a pap smear) or you totally forget how awful it is. Sometimes that's bad — burning yourself, for example, you should remember hurts a lot. But hiking or running stairs — forgetting the pain allows you to look forward eagerly to the next time instead of dreading it, even though you know what's coming.
Mt. Nebo, anyone?