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She Laughs Without Fear of the Future

I cannot believe how fast the time is flying by! I have already been home for three weeks! I bet you might be wondering how I am transitioning from waking up to majestic mountains to waking up in a home, surviving off rock hard jerky to indulging on an occasional steak, sleeping on a leaky air mattress to sleeping on a warm cozy bed, and most importantly, freedom from society to being completely engulfed by it. The answer? Incredibly well! To everyone who was holding their breath to see whether or not I would crash and burn, feel free to take a sigh of relief.

Since I have been home I have not used symptoms ONCE. Not once. Food continues to be nutrients instead of an enemy that makes me “fat”, and exercise continues to be a means to attain better performance on the courts instead of a means to attain a better body. I can’t explain it, but since being back, I feel like a victor instead of a victim. I feel so strong and not afraid of anything. A feeling too good to be true and as it leaves my lips it sounds like a cliche or something someone would say to hide their underlying fears, but I genuinely feel this way. I am changed-hopefully forever.

I cannot lie that the temptation hasn’t been there, because it has, but it’s usually a fleeting thought that I can easily distract myself from. Ed’s voice has never been so weak, almost laughable. It reminds me of Proverbs 31:25: She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. It nearly brings tears to my eyes to think how much power not long ago Ed had over my every thought and move. But I am finally stepping into who God created me to be; fearless. One who can laugh at the enemy and say as confidently as David, “My God is Greater”!

She laughs

Every time I hear that a friend has fallen back into the arms of Ed my heart cries, “But God has so much more than this for you!” I want nothing more than these words to resonate with them and I have to believe and trust God that in time, it will. I know people have prayed this prayer for me thousands of times, and finally, I am nearly out of the dark hole I felt was once inescapable. I was in their shoes not long ago; utterly hopeless and just trying to survive in this seemingly harsh world.

Since I have been home, I have been moving nonstop! I couldn’t tell you how many things I have checked off my list and how many more I have added. I do know that I have had a wonderful return by spending lots of time with friends and family and have somehow managed to swing right back into working part time with my PCA client, and signing up for my CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) program with the Red Cross.

For the first time in the longest time, I feel normal. It’s as if a dark dreary cloud of self-doubt and victimization has been lifted. I get dressed in normal clothes without thinking about how “thin” or “fat” I look. I go to the gym on a regular basis without criticizing myself. Stressful situations arise, and I deal with it in a healthy way by either accepting or working through it. For the first time since my sophomore year in college, I have direction and am moving in a forward motion; Something I’ve prayed for years has finally become clear.

God spoke to me and opened so many doors for me while I was in Colorado. So much so that I knew that no matter what, I was going to finish climbing the mountains because it a part of my plan (Jeremiah 29:11). He continues to speak to me even still. While I was away, and further removed from society, it was easier to not partake in activities that weren’t beneficial for me. I was so focused and on a mission that there was no time for distractions. Now that I’m home, these activities present themselves again to me, and I am so tempted to participate. What I’m talking about in particular is the act of “going out”.

It’s permissible, but by no means beneficial. I absolutely know this, but I still love to dance and I still love to get all dolled up- especially since I was roughing it for so long over this summer. The problem with going out, is that it’s toxic and the people are intoxicated- myself, not exempt. I know these people are numbing and are bored, and I know most of these people are lost.

I have prayed to God to take away many of my sins, urges and to change my heart and He has always answered. Probably the biggest change within me has been my desire for what I want out of life. I had my own agenda in what I wanted to accomplish and I didn’t want to give that up for God. But I still prayed for it, because I knew it was right, and I knew His plan was supposed to better than anything I could ever come up with. It has taken some time, but the more I get to know God and His Goodness, the more I want to honor Him with my life. You could see how “going out” conflicts with this new found ambition.

In the first week that I was home, I went out three times! Each time I went out I drank a little more, each time I compromised myself a little more, and each time I felt sick, conflicted, and convicted. I knew God was speaking to me the night I went to the Zombie Pub Crawl. . Someone stole my phone and my passport that night which was my only means of allowing me to get into any bar. As soon as I realized they were gone, I knew it was God. I knew He was saying, “Knock it off!”. God disciplines the child He loves (Proverbs 3:12). Although I was angry with the person who stole my things, I was more concerned with where I was heading and my character.

It’s been a tough decision and I still struggle with it, but I know that if I keep this up, that I cannot promote the kingdom at the same time, nor will I be promoted while I try to advocate more. I must continue my life with the same determination, focus and purpose as I did while I was out in Colorado. I know that’s what my Abba wants for me.

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#55, The Final, Crestone Peak: October 4th, 2015

Crestone Peak

  • Height: 14,294 ft.
  • Range: Sangre De Cristo
  • Route: South Face
  • Overall Distance for Day: 12.1 mi.
  • Distance from Upper Parking Lot to Camp: 3.4 mi.
  • Distance from Camp to Summit: 4.3 mi.
  • Elevation Gain: 2,750 feet
  • Time started: 8:35am
  • End time (arrival back at camp): 3:35pm
  • Time to Summit: 4 hours and 5 minutes
  • Time to Descent (back to camp): 2 hours and 55 minutes (with break at summit)
  • Time to Car: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Overall Pace: 1.2 miles per hour
  • GEAR (to bring for day):
    • Bear spray, GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, Topo Map from 14ers.com, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat, warm hat, lightweight gloves, day pack with water sack (100 oz or more), snacks.
  • Road Condition: With a little guts, my sedan was able to make it all the way to the upper trailhead- barely. It’s very bumpy and plenty of opportunities to bottom out unless you know what you’re doing and have plenty of experience.
  • Trail Condition: There was a little bit of ice around 13,300 feet, but I never slipped from it. Walk 2.65 miles up the road for the trail junction and head up the Humboldt trail as it is shorter and more direct. From the Humboldt side of the trail you’ll need to cross at the start of the South Colony Lakes. Below with pictures I have a very detailed account on the easiest way to cross over. Broken Hand Pass is marked very well with large cairns to follow and has a decent dirt path. Once on the saddle, the trail continues over to the left and you’ll see it carry on down a nice trail to Cottonwood Lake. Past the lake, you’ll cut around to the right and come to an enclosed area. There you’ll see the red gully right in front of you. There are cairns along the boulders that mark the trail great, and it will seem like it’s leading you far to the right of it, but they are trustworthy cairns and bring you to an easier entrance on the gully. At the start of the gully, the rocks are smooth and there isn’t much loose rock, but the higher you climb, the more loose it becomes. There will be cairns marking the easiest way to the top of the gully. Once at the notch, turn left and continue to follow the cairns to the top of the ridge. You’ll need to cross over to another rock pile at the summit to reach the full summit which will be an only slight difference, but obvious (there is a capsule there).

While I fell asleep rather quickly after hiking for ten hours to bag Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Peak, I kept waking up throughout the night from noises outside of my tent. At one point I could hear something heavy and large snapping twigs right outside my tent and I freaked out. I didn’t have my bear spray near me and quickly tried to get it, but I was stuck in my sleeping bag! I thought, “Great, I’m a bear burrito!” I violently shook my way out and grabbed it, and listened for the animal, but heard nothing. I figured my loud movements had probably startled it and scared it away.

Again, somehow I managed to fall back asleep until I woke up the next morning from the conversations of other hikers. I realized this was my last night that I would be sleeping in my tent! It was a crazy realization that after four months, it really was ending. When I stood outside of my tent and looked at the mountains, I quickly realized I was once again not going to have ideal weather for climbing. The mountains were completely encased in low clouds, and it was cold, but at least it wasn’t as windy.

Since I had hiked in on the Humboldt side, I needed to cross over the stream somehow to reach the other side to the Crestones’ trail. My way before when I climbed Humboldt and Crestone Needle wasn’t exactly ideal, so I tried to find another way. I ended up finding a better way across, but got lost upon reaching the other side. I was looking for the “Crestone Needle Access” sign and couldn’t find it and the guy I ran into was absolutely zero help.

Luckily it didn’t take too long to find it, but it was enough to annoy me. I then headed to the lake to fill up on water and on the way back I missed the trail again. I was so incredibly annoyed by this point by the fact that I still sucked at finding trail junctions. Luckily, that was the last time of the entire hike that I got off track. As I climbed up Broken Hand Pass, I ran into two gentlemen. One was climbing his first fourteener and his more experienced buddy was taking him up Crestone Needle- quite the endeavor on a very foggy day. I told them the story of Alix and I getting lost on it and tried to give them helpful tips for the way down. Inside I was praying for them intensely as I knew many people had died on that mountain in particular.

As I climbed up the class 3 rock to reach the saddle, the wind again roared and was so loud it sounded as if a rushing waterfall was nearby. I scratched the rocks to see if there was a layer of ice on them, and sure enough there was. I knew that was bad news. Once I reached the saddle it was as windy as it was through the Keyhole on Longs Peak, but I had the same hope that the wind would calm just the same and thankfully, it did.

The clouds were breaking somewhat and I could now see Cottonwood Lake far below. It was a nice trail leading to the lake and was really beautiful with the clouds sitting down so low to the ground behind it. I continued to make my way past the lake and curved around to the right to an enclosed area. There, I could plainly see the “Red Gully”. I took a break to eat and enjoyed the Pikas and Marmots running around in the area. I knew it was the last time I’d be seeing my buddies that kept me company all these days in the mountains.

The trail weaved far to the right, but eventually lead me back to a higher place on the gully. The cairns were great in the area, so there’s no need to second guess them as I did. Once reaching the red gully I looked at it in awe. I couldn’t believe how smooth the red rock was. It was so beautiful, and there were conglomerate rocks every color of the rainbow in the mix equally smoothed over by previously running waters. One would think that they were hand laid there and smoothed over by men. As I made my way up the foggy, steep gully I spotted two men coming down.

I asked them if they had made it, and they had. I asked if it was windy, it wasn’t. I asked if it was icy, it wasn’t! I was in the clear! As long as I kept moving one foot in front of the other the last summit was mine to claim! I told them it was my very last summit and they congratulated me. We parted ways and I couldn’t help but be a little sad that I couldn’t share this moment with someone I loved. For a moment it was lonely, but I remembered that I’d most likely have service and would be able to at least text my mom as I summited.

Up higher and higher I went still in foggy conditions, checking my GPS constantly for my current elevation until finally I could see the end of the gully and reached the notch. I was now above 14,000 feet and only steps away from completing my entire journey! The rocks and shrubs now had a layer of this really neat windblown snow on it. I knew I was ending this journey just in time. The weather wasn’t going to get any better from this day on and snow was inevitable.

I continued to climb searching for cairns through the fog and somehow found my way to the summit! It was such a strange moment. It was so quiet, so cold and I couldn’t see anything around me. This is my finish? It honestly felt so anticlimactic! I felt the urge to scream belly up inside of me so I let out a half “Wooo!” It was really cold and my fingers were starting to numb but I took the time to send one final SPOT message and texted my mom that I made it to my last summit and to let everyone else know for me.

I then took out my sign I made for my final summit, which I dedicated to God, who I couldn’t have done this without. I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for him. Back when I was really sick in my disorder, I could barely stay awake any time I would drive because my body was so depleted of everything. One day, on my way to work, I fell asleep at the wheel but somehow managed to wake up just before I plowed into the back of another truck going nearly 80 miles per hour on the freeway. I swerved my car to avoid him and the slippery roads sent me flying into the air.

In this moment, I heard a voice say clearly, “Be Calm” and moments later my car flipped three times into the ditch on I-94. I was anything but calm, after the fact, but I was okay. My car was completely totaled, but somehow I walked away with only a bruise on my inner calf- that was it. Everyone called it a miracle, I knew it was a miracle and heard the voice of the angel who protected me. It was not my own voice or thought, and it was not my mothers…

For some reason I kept on living after that. People said, “You’re alive for a reason”. But when I was that sick, and that depressed, I couldn’t ever imagine why… “What good could I be- could I ever be??” My gut tells me this is why: I wasn’t meant to die with the secret of my eating disorder. God had planned to use my pain and struggle for good, so I couldn’t go home yet. My purpose, lived out, I believe, is only just beginning. I wished for death before, but now, even with the pain, I’m glad I have been given this chance to help others.

To glory of God!

To glory of God!

I wished I could have stayed for a while longer on the summit to take it in, but the wind picked up just enough to chill me and so I put my pack back on and found my way back to the beautifully colored red gully. As I made my way down, four hikers spotted me and started to clap for me!! I immediately smiled and thanked them and they congratulated me from afar. As I drew closer I tried to figure out if I knew them, but before I could figure it out they told me that they had heard about me and were hoping to run into me along their hike.

God had heard my call of loneliness and answered it with these wonderful people! I was so grateful because they really helped it sink in that I had finished my journey. They were definitely people that I would have loved to hike with on this journey. They told me about the 14ers.com Facebook Page and that they’d post the picture they took of me on there. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t a member yet! How could I have not thought of this? I’m sure I could have found plenty of hiking buddies on there! Oh well… it was a little too late for that now.

As I made my way back to Cottonwood Lake, I came to the realization that my elevation gain wasn’t over because I still needed to climb back up to the saddle that would lead me back down Broken Hand Pass. My legs were burning and ached the whole way up as I had just climbed Kit Carson and Challenger (plus all the minis) just yesterday. The wind was just as wicked passing through the saddle, but I didn’t mind, I knew I was home free!

Finally, at 3:30pm I arrived back at my tent. I plopped down, legs sprawled and shoved a peanut butter bagel in my mouth before I packed everything up and made the last small hike back to my car. Along my way, I ran back into the two gentlemen that I met climbing up Broken Hand Pass. I was really happy that they were okay! I asked if they made it all the way up to the summit and they had! I congratulated Mike who had just finished his first fourteener. He liked it, but definitely was exhausted as he had just come in a couple days previously from Tennessee.

It was nice to have their company for the walk back down to our vehicles. They realized that the Saturn was my car and were shocked that I could get my little beater up there. It’s funny how my car becomes the talk on people’s hikes! Once arriving in the parking lot, I quickly threw everything in my car and headed down the bumpy dirt road- my last challenge of this adventure- and of course, my little gold Saturn pulled through!

As I made my way to Denver I realized many things were now officially over. I no longer would be camping, I no longer had to drive on these dumb, rough, dirt roads, I wouldn’t see all my furry friends on a regular basis, I wouldn’t have to deal with getting lost on trailheads, and sadly, I wouldn’t see the world from 14,000 feet for a long time. It makes me really sad just typing it, but there are so many things that I can’t wait for that make my heart happy!

It was surreal to be done climbing, to think, I’ve seen them all… is that it Colorado? However, I knew I’d be back someday to climb the final three that were left; North Eolus, Conundrum, and El Diente. I also know that I’ll be coming back with new skills as I would like to start learning how to do more technical climbing with ropes so I could come back and do all the class 5 traverses! It excites me to know it’s not over for Colorado! It’s also just beginning as there are so many other mountains to explore and so many other beautiful landscapes to experience.

This beautiful life is just beginning! I thank you so much for following along with me on this journey! I can’t tell you again how much it meant to me, and how much it helped to keep my determination. It just goes to show the power of community which is my next mission in life. There’s such a need for support among those who are struggling with an eating disorder. I will do what I can to see a growth in support groups for those who are struggling with this devastating disease. We were never meant to go through this life and our struggles alone. Otherwise I think we’d all have our own universes, right?!

I pray that my journey has in some way blessed you and encouraged you to live your life boldly. If you have a dream I hope you pray about it and find a way to chase after it. We all have what it takes to be a little more than ordinary and to be extraordinary. Live the life you’ve imagined! Live a life you love!

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#49 North Maroon Peak: September 25th, 2015 (Replacement for Culebra)

North Maroon Peak

  • Height: 14,014 ft.
  • Range: Elk Range
  • Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Distance: 9.25 mi.
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft.
  • Time started: 9:15am
  • End time: 5:40pm
  • Time to Summit: 4 hours and 45 minutes
  • Time to Descent: 3 hours
  • Overall Pace: 1.2 miles per hour
  • GEAR (to bring):
    • Microspikes, bear spray, helmet, GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, Topo Map from 14ers.com, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat, warm hat, lightweight gloves, day pack with water sack (100 oz or more), snacks.
  • Road Condition: Black top; You will also have to pay to get into the park (even if you come in before they open, they check later in the day at the parking lot to see if you self-paid.
  • Trail Condition: There is snow at from 13,300 feet on. It’s not deep, or that treacherous, but bring your microspikes just in case. Otherwise, from the start, it’s a beautiful walk through the forest. At the point where you would turn left to Crater Lake, you’ll turn right to head towards North Maroon. There is a junction at 10,800 marked by a cairn that will lead you down to the creek. From there, the real hiking begins. Hike up a series of boulder steps that turns into talus rock. Once around 11,500 feet, cross the boulder field to the upper break in the cliff side. The gullies are not typical gullies that I’ve been in. There isn’t much scree or loose rock, and there’s a fairly good trail leading the whole way in both “gullies”. Once at the notch at 13,200 feet, you’ll need to use more body strength to pull yourself up higher and higher, for the rest of the way. When you get to the chimney, you can go further to the left and climb up some other rocks to avoid the chimney. You’ll cross over two tall square shaped rocks. This whole area is kind of a blur honestly. It was exhausting. You will go through some snow, so have your microspikes.

After finishing up my blog entry for Pyramid, I checked my email and had one from the fundraiser page I had set up. Because I hadn’t heard anything, I thought I hadn’t raised anything or that I hadn’t set it up right. Once I confirmed the account, I was astonished at the amount people contributed to my cause! I immediately tried to call my mom to tell her the good news, but when I couldn’t get a hold of her, I went outside with tears of joy welling up in my eyes and dropped to my knees to a bench outside of the Starbucks in Aspen. I didn’t care if anyone saw, I had to thank God, and I had to pray for blessings for each person that gave. I’m relieved to say that I don’t have to worry about finances for the rest of the trip! That burden has been lifted off my shoulders and now I can eat good, warm meals and have gas to get me back home! God bless each of you!!

After my time in Aspen, I headed back to the Maroon Bells Park, and saw a sign that the campgrounds were completely full. I checked them out anyway, and to my luck, there was one campsite still awaiting its campers. I waited until 9pm, and when they still weren’t there, I made the risky decision to set up my tent there instead, fully ready to move ASAP if they had arrived. Once again to my luck, the campers never showed up. I had actually been lucky with this happening at this park two other occasions.

I left for my hike at 9:15am, and didn’t spend any time taking pictures at the beautiful lake as I had taken quite a few the previous day, including pictures at sunset. I wanted to climb North Maroon as quickly as possible so I could get to San Luis Peak that same night. I wasn’t 100% sure if I’d be able to climb the next day as my foot was usually very sore, but I was going to try anyways so I could join a reader from my blog.

I was making a really great pace and when everyone was turning to go to Crater Lake, I turned right up the far less popular trail to the treacherous North Maroon Peak instead. To my surprise, there was a gentleman waiting on the rock for his partner. His name was Rick and we talked for a while about the hike he was going to do, and about the fourteeners. Him and his wife were from Missouri and were telling me all about Telluride and how I must go visit there. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll have the time this trip. They wished me luck and safe passage and I carried on down to the stream that would mark the start of a much more taxing hike.

At first it was lovely boulder steps guiding me, but soon that gave way to smaller talus which I knew my ankles were going to hate on the way down. The area was alive with little critters and birds. Pikas were “meeping” with anger at the nearby marmots to leave their territory, but the marmots paid them no attention and continued to sun themselves on the rocks.

Once reaching the top of this field, I reached another boulder field. For a tip, head to the upper break in the cliff, not the lower. The picture from 14ers.com makes it difficult to tell. As I balanced boulder to boulder I couldn’t help but stop and be amazed by the green sparkles on rocks. I had been looking for the perfect turquoise rock to give Ginger, my mom’s friend who has been supporting me the trip. She was joking about me bringing her one home, but I found one! It’ll be a fun little surprise unless she ends up reading this entry!

These rocks were absolutely stunning.

These rocks were absolutely stunning.

The trail was very easy to follow despite 14ers.com warning that there would be a lot of route finding. I never checked my directions until I reached the upper notch at 13,200 feet. The views as I climbed higher and higher up the gullies grew increasingly beautiful. I was looking forward to seeing the painted valley and lakes from the opposite side of Pyramid.

Although the trail was easy to follow, it was exhausting. Constantly climbing, taking large steps and hoisting myself up boulders to get higher and higher. I must have not eaten enough the previous day because I kept getting lightheaded, felt weak, and was constantly hungry. Once I reached the notch at 13,200 feet, I thought I was in the home stretch. Boy, was I wrong.

The technical climbing was just beginning and was intense. It took much of my focus and strength- hence barely any pictures until I was right below the summit. Right when I thought I was nearing the summit, I realized it was still a small hump in the far off distance. Higher and higher I went pulling myself up and solving puzzles to get to the summit. I had never felt so physically exhausted.

When I previously came to Aspen I had to leave because it rained all night, two nights in a row. I decided to finish up the Sawatch Range instead because I didn’t feel comfortable climbing class 4 mountains when they were wet and most likely covered in snow. Even a week later, with perfect weather, the snow didn’t melt and I was now carefully navigating my way around it, careful not to slip. I was grateful to a reader of my blog for buying me micro-spikes and they came in handy.

It was a lovely sight to see little birds playing in the snow when I was feeling so crappy otherwise. Just below the summit I said to a bird thinking I was utterly alone, “I’m so tired lil’ birdy!” Then a head popped over the summit and said cheerfully, “Hello!” I fumbled my way to the summit and he gave me a high five upon my arrival. I collapsed on a nearby rock and we started a conversation. His name was David and he had just finished doing the class 5 traverse, and it was as sketchy as it sounded.

After about 5 minutes he started to make his way down the same way I came up, but I sat at the summit for a while to recover. That’s when I discovered I was out of water! I thought I had plenty of water left from Pyramid, but I was wrong. Thirsty from the trek up, I had finished all my PowerAde just moments before. I couldn’t believe I could make such a stupid mistake! How careless! I knew I would be physically fine, but I also knew I would be uncomfortably thirsty the whole way down.

Pushing those feelings aside, I pulled out a sign I had made. Yesterday morning, I had the bright idea to dedicate my last mountains. For my first, I would be dedicating of course, my mom and dad, family and friends. While most of my family didn’t support my choice to do this, they did love me anyways. Now that I’m getting closer to the finish, everyone is rooting me on! My friends, especially Laura and Tammy were all about it right from the start even though they were going to miss me. They have been a source of great comfort while I’ve been away and have really made the effort to keep me in the loop and to cheer me up when I was feeling blue. My parents, while they are parents and they may feel obligated to support me, didn’t have to, and paid for my broken phone, sent me food, helped pay for the family vacation in Montana and more. While they didn’t support me at the start, my mom especially has been my biggest pusher for finishing them all!

After all my pictures on the summit I started to make my way down and ran back into David. He had used ropes to get down a chimney and had to leave one of them there as an anchor. I asked if he wanted it back and threw it to him. I showed him the way I went without having to use any ropes at all. He laughed at not knowing that route was there as he had climbed this mountain a couple of times. At first we kept making our way down separately, but soon enough we were going down together having a great conversation.

As usual, he asked about me climbing the fourteeners, and how many I had done and that lead into my story. Eventually that lead into my faith and he stated, “I knew it. I knew there was a reason you were so easy to talk to!” Once again God opened up a door to hear each other’s testimonies and vulnerabilities. He said it was refreshing to talk about this verses bow hunting or fishing or other things guys usually talk about on their way down. I joked, “Yeah, I don’t stay in shallow waters for very long”!

Time flew as we made our way down. David was an avid trail runner competing in multiple 100 mile races! As it turned out, he was also a blogger and as I was using my journey as a platform and avenue for outreach, so was he. He had been doing it for a while and was now gaining sponsers and coaches to help him train for races. This past year he did four 100 miles races at the age of 46. I would have never guessed that he was that age.

He tries to set the example to others to find their “thing”, which is a great thought! Why, when I think of surfing, do I think that I’m getting too old!? Find your passion, and never stop growing! I don’t want to be restricted to only taking walks and riding a bicycle because I’m “50”. I hope I play volleyball, continue to hike, surf, climb; do all those things until God says I’ve had enough! If you’re not in “shape”, slowly work your way back- but don’t roll over to new exciting avenues of adventure!

I couldn’t believe that we were back at the parking lot after only 3 hours! It had taken me nearly 5 hours to go up North Maroon! I felt so much better coming down, and David was kind enough to give me a water bottle to quench my thirst. Unfortunately, while coming down, just as I predicted, my ankles didn’t like the talus rock, and I rolled my ankle hard. I love the idea of being a trail runner, and David encouraged me, but I just couldn’t see myself being that successful with my weak ankles. While they may get strengthened a little from a successful day on the rocks, usually the next day I end up rolling it and weakening it all over again.

I met David over at his van to recoop for a while and was amazed at his set up inside! He had a bed, and a desk with a TV! He was a contractor and was constantly moving around from state to state, so it only made sense. He loved the freedom it provided and I would have to agree! When I told David I couldn’t afford ice, he reached in the front of his car and gave me some money- again, the kindness of God overwhelms me. I thanked him for his company and kindness, exchanged information to stay up on each other’s blogs, and said goodbye. As I drove away I couldn’t help but feel so happy and accomplished for climbing all but Conundrum Peak in the Elk Mountains. People die all the time on these mountains, but somehow I had been allowed to successfully climb each of them, the first time around. To the Glory of God, Amen!

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#48 Pyramid Peak: September 23rd, 2015

Pyramid Peak

  • Height: 14,018 ft.
  • Range: Elk Range
  • Route: Northeast Ridge
  • Distance: 14ers.com says 8.25 mi.; however my GPS said 10+ (died at 4.79 on descent and wasn’t even by Maroon Lake)
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft.
  • Time started: 10am
  • End time: 7:40pm
  • Time to Summit: 5 hours and 10 minutes
  • Time to Descent: 4 hours
  • Overall Pace: 1.1 miles per hour
  • GEAR (to bring):
    • Bear spray, helmet, GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, Topo Map from 14ers.com, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat, warm hat, lightweight gloves, day pack with water sack (64 oz), snacks.
  • Road Condition: Black top
  • Trail Condition: The trail around Maroon Lake is slick and smooth. The turn off for Pyramid Peak is the first marked trail by a very large cairn. Once on that trail, it is marked on and off with a very rocky trail that could twist your ankle. Once your in the amphitheater, it only gets worse. My ankles were absolutely shot after this hike having to balance so much on jagged, rarely flat rocks. Don’t pay attention to the cairns, as much as just make your way to the steep gully. YOU CAN GO UP EITHER TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT!  The trail is more defined on the left in my opinion. The gully is very steep with lots of dirt to make you slip. Once at the top of the saddle, follow the trail and once you get to 13,150-13,200, go to the LEFT around the backside of the mountain. The trail is more defined, easier, and you’ll avoid climbing in the dangerous snow (you should be able to avoid it by 99%). Keep your eyes out for the cairns and make sure you’re wrapping towards the backside of the mountain as you summit. The rock is solid, but there is a lot of free smaller rocks sitting on them that could cause you to slip.
  • Minor detail, but expect to pay for entrance into the park.

After the realization that I now could hike until October 5th when my mom would arrive, I decided to take two days off when I arrived to Aspen. I was blessed yet again by a special new friend who bought me microspikes for the coming snow, and free goodies from the Starbucks in Aspen (Pumpkin Scone and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin both to die for). But I couldn’t shake the feelings of panic from my shrinking finances. Finances have always been a huge stressor in my life, and I’ve never lived above poverty line in my entire adult life. Stress, has always been a huge cause for my eating disorder to flair up as well… the devil was attacking me, and he was attacking me hard- finances were just the icing on the cake for him. I did manage to catch up on my blog on the two days off, but I spent the rest of the time numbing myself once again to “Breaking Bad”.

Thankfully, the day after I blogged, I took the next best step for myself and listened to my audio bible to help calm me and put me to sleep that night. I was going to hike the next day; I was ready to do it, and thankfully was starting to miss the mountains. I woke up in better spirits that morning and drove myself to the Maroon Bells parking lot that would lead me to Pyramid Peak. While I had warm oatmeal and coffee outside my car, a car pulled up next to me.

His name was Bruce and he was originally from Chicago and was here to take photos of the gorgeous Maroon Bells. He had taken pictures there every fifteen years and was back for another. We talked about a lot of things, mostly travel and my goal of climbing the fourteeners and his goal of visiting all of the national parks. He had retired and was giving me the solid advice to take care of myself so I could enjoy life fully, my whole life.

He went off to take pictures and I continued to take my time getting ready to hike. I figured it was going to take me about 9 hours to hike that day and knowing that I had a gorgeous day ahead of me, I was going to make sure I enjoyed my entire day, right from the start. Once I was finally ready I started to make my way to Maroon Lake. I couldn’t have expected to see such astounding beauty. It took my breath away. The crystal clear blue-green waters of Maroon Lake reflecting the lightly snow dusted Maroon Bell Mountains and the vibrant yellow Aspens glowing from the bright sun in the clear blue sky. I could have stayed there all day, but I knew there was a view waiting for me that few would see from the peak of Pyramid.

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As I made my way, I ran back into Bruce and offered to take his photo. He was making his way to Crater Lake which was the same direction I was headed to reach the turn off for the Pyramid trail. We spent the next hour or so hiking with one another taking photos every couple minutes of the neon-yellow aspen leaves. Somehow we got on the subject of faith and I was happy to share some of the miracles I had experienced along the way. We talked about the hypocrisy that exists within the church and I couldn’t help but agree. It turns many people away from God, Bruce included. Somehow, despite my own negative experience as a child at church (being picked on, never finding a friend) I found my way back to God. I could only hope the same for Bruce. I wish I could have been bold enough to tell him:

People will always fail you. They will always come up short. Placing all your hope in people is too great of a burden to for them to carry; but there’s One who is capable of that burden, and He loves you very much. He has a plan for you and a plan to help you, not harm you.

People have been given free will. People like you and me have choices millions of times a day whether we will do something positive, or negative. God gave us this choice. Why? Because He wants us to choose Him, and His way on our own. A good father will let you fail, but a good father will also discipline those who He loves. People think that bad people get away with things all the time in this life. That’s just it- in this life, yes. But one day, they will have to answer to the ultimate Judge; the One who saw it all. It is in this day, justice will be ultimately be served.

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I opened up to Bruce about the ultimate reason for my journey, and he couldn’t believe it. We opened up about our own journeys and trying to figure out our paths. I think I could see some of myself in Bruce, and he could see some of himself in me. I was sad when my junction came because I could have spoke to him all day. As we said goodbye, he reached into his backpack and gave me money. He usually doesn’t even carry that much with him, but for some reason he had that day. He said, “You’re doing something incredible and the last thing you should have to worry about is money.” I gave him a hug and we parted ways.

I turned on my music as I made my way up the side of the mountain leading to the amphitheater. It was now too quiet without Bruce’s company. Arriving, I couldn’t believe how massive it was. It looked as if it would take me hours to reach the gully on the other end. The amphitheater was full of boulders of every size, shape and color. It really was beautiful and I was so thankful that there finally was also no wind! I reached the gully much quicker than I expected and it looked so steep. I was nervous about my foot because I knew I’d have to use the ball of my foot to help me get up it and it was still sore. The gully seemed to go on and on forever as I climbed, but thankfully my foot was holding up.

Once I reached the ridge I could see the surrounding mountains that I had already climbed and the stunning aspen down below. While looking at the summit of Pyramid, I realized there was a mountain goat sunning itself on the rocks. I was so happy to see them again! He didn’t allow me to get too close and jumped up to the higher surrounding rocks. He stopped and watched me with curiosity, “Why are you up here?”.

I grabbed my directions once I reached 13,200 feet. I couldn’t tell which way to go next and didn’t know exactly where I was. All I could do was follow the cairns I could see and the first ones I could see lead around to the right. I climbed and pulled and scooted my way around the rocks with high exposure down below me later realizing I should have gone left. Regardless, I found my way back on track and tried out some James Bond moves hoping across shallow crevasses. As I crossed a thin ledge, I heard a voice. There were three young men and a dog (on a class 4?!) coming down from the summit.

They stopped and one of them talked to me for a while. As we talked a family of mountain goat stopped to stare at our interaction from above. They looked so beautiful with the sun and clouds behind them. One of the men had climbed all the fourteeners including doing all the sketchy traverses. I told him about Culebra and he told me that I could still do it for free if I did “Operation Black Snake”. The hike would include going over thirteen peaks! He did it with his friend and said it was exhaustive. The whole hike had somewhere around 13,000 feet of elevation gain. I had emailed the ranch explaining my situation, but I never heard back from them… now I was seriously considering this as an option- if I felt like it at the end (which I kind of doubt).

We congratulated one another and then parted ways and I continued to the “green rock” which I was instructed to climb. I had to improvise somewhat as the mountain goats were kicking down small rocks as they moved further up the mountain. For the remainder of the hike I was climbing up very steep rock using my entire body strength to pull myself up higher and higher. Somehow I got off track somewhat and went too far to the right and ended up hiking in some wet, snowy rocks. Advice? Start making your way to the left as you near the top of the green rock. If you’re hiking soon, you should be able to avoid the snow almost all together.

Yes, there is indeed a little snow.

Yes, there is indeed a little snow.

I still couldn’t understand where I was when looking at the 14ers.com pictures once I reached around 13,650 feet, so I continued to follow the cairns. There were multiple cairns leading to two different ascents, but they are both on the back side of the mountain. You’ll wrap around the mountain further than you would think to reach the summit.

The summit that day was beautiful. There was only a slight breeze and it was almost warm enough to get away without my windbreaker which doesn’t happen often. It was so fun to reminisce as I looked at the surrounding mountains I had already climbed. I had fun taking plenty of pictures that would later be my profile picture for me completing number 48!

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About a half hour later I started back down the mountain. It was now 3:40pm, and was expecting to be down by nine, which meant I’d be hiking in the dark which discouraged me slightly only because I planned on hiking North Maroon the very next morning and wouldn’t give my feet very much time to recover. I could also see a giant rain cloud heading my way but despite it all, I found myself in a lighthearted mood and was in awe of the mountain goats and colorful rocks I saw on the way down.

By the time I had made it back down the amphitheater my ankles and knees were shot. My neuromuscular system, responsible for balance had met its limits and made it for a tough descent down the rest of the way. My ankles folded a couple times as a result, but luckily never too bad enough to make me fall. As annoyed as I had become with the jagged rocks, I couldn’t help but be rejuvenated once I hit the main trail. I thought the trees were glowing before, but now, they were almost glowing more intensely after the sun had set.

Soon the half lit moon was shining through the trees. I wished my phone could have captured the true beauty of it. Around that time I realized that my GPS was far past the 4.15 miles it should have taken to get back to my car. It died while I was at mile 4.79 and I still hadn’t reached Maroon Lake. I can’t tell you if it’s my GPS going bad, or if it really is about 10 miles round trip. Maybe someone else knows?

I made it back to my car at 7:40pm. It had taken me nine hours of hiking just as I suspected it would and I was happy my foot made it the full day. I was happy to tell myself that I had made it another mountain. God had allowed me another successful day, and despite the devil’s best attempts to keep me down, I got up and pushed back to see yet another mountain conquered.

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OMGee, I Just Applied to College to Pursue Nursing!

I haven’t told that many people, but I have had the intent on moving after my adventure. I was almost sure that I was going to move to California, but now, Colorado is back on the table. Here’s my essay:

I have hope for an amazing future. It hasn’t been the most concise path thus far, and wouldn’t be considered the most prized way of building a future, but I wouldn’t change it. Every path is unique and beautiful and every decision can be made into something unique and valuable.

Like most, I thought I had a solid plan leaving high school and was looking forward to starting my life. I entered UW-Stout to pursue my love for art and passion for playing volleyball. However, my sophomore year, my identity was crushed. I was cut from the Varsity volleyball team, and came to the rude realization that my art wouldn’t lead me anywhere that offered safety or security. I then spent the next 3 years trying to discover my calling and didn’t have much success.

In 2010, I decided to move to Colorado to try something new. As one of my gifts, I have never been afraid of starting over, or been afraid of the unknown- in fact, it excites me! After a year of working at restaurants, I had the urge for more meaning in my life. I loved coaching, and had coached volleyball for four years including a year as Head Coach of the Junior Varsity volleyball team at McDonell High School in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where my team earned the title of Conference Champions. I also loved the study of nutrition and the human body, so with my strengths in mind, I decided to apply at 24 Hour Fitness in Highlands Ranch, one of the top gyms in Colorado. I received the position as a personal trainer, and also earned the title “Rookie of the Year”, of the entire company.

No one knew, but I had been struggling with depression since I was nineteen (with the loss of identity) and at the age of twenty-four, was also struggling with an eating disorder. These struggles eventually brought me back to Minnesota where I became deeply involved in my faith. I continued as a trainer for the next year and a half, and eventually broke off and started my own personal training business. It was going well, but my eating disorder and depression sabotaged everything. I was at the point where either I got help, or I died.  By God’s grace, I found help in Belleview, Washington at a residential program called “Center for Discovery”. That place changed my life entirely. I was finally on my way to finding my true self and healing.

I went back to personal training for a while at Life Time Athletic, but having an entirely different view on what truly fulfills life, I didn’t find the work as rewarding. I wanted to help people find balance, not make them believe that they couldn’t live without me, or that their life wouldn’t be as valuable if they weren’t at a certain weight or performance level. Those beliefs nearly destroyed me.

A relapse in my eating disorder sent me into a time of deep reflection. I have always been a purpose driven person, but I was having a hard time finding my place in the world. I was also reflecting on how much the eating disorder had stolen from me, and wanted to regain my zest for life. Those two things combined sent me on the amazing journey I’m currently on. June 3rd, 2015, I left for Colorado in hopes to conquer climbing all fifty-four fourteener mountains, strengthen my relationship with God, and gain direction on where to find fulfillment in my career life.

It’s been an incredible journey which I have been blogging about in hopes to help others who also struggle with an eating disorder and those in general who need a pioneer to chase after their dreams despite the fear of the unknown. I came up with the slogan “Faith>Fear”. I’d be honored if you read some of my entries at sunshineof1985.com. This trip has been the motivation I needed to start living the life I had imagined for myself. A life of giving and of adventure.

How does Metropolitan State University of Denver fit into this equation? By helping me become an angel of the people, a nurse. Nursing fulfills my needs for helping people and using my God given intelligence. My now clearer vision of my future and grasp on my identity gives me motivation to complete the program and to do it well. Along with becoming a nurse, I also envision being an active advocate for people who struggle with eating disorders. I want to help society become more aware of the true definition of what it means to have an eating disorder. I have big plans for my future, and I hope that your esteemed college becomes a part of my future and life story.

Keep your fingers crossed and prayers of course are always appreciated!

#21 Snowmass Mountain: August 6th, 2015

Snowmass Mountain

  • Height: 14,092 ft.
  • Range: Elk Range
  • Route: East Slopes
  • Distance: 23.25 mi.
  • Elevation Gain: 5,800 ft.
  • Time started: 3:10am
  • End time: 7:50pm
  • Time to Summit: 9 hours and 5 minutes
  • Time to Descent: 7 hours and 20 minutes
  • GEAR (to bring):
    • GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat (didn’t need), light weight puffy coat (didn’t need), lightweight gloves (didn’t need), day pack with water sack, food, sunscreen, lip balm.
  • Road Condition: Easy and short dirt road to the main trailhead and there are some hidden campsites you can camp at as well.
  • Trail Condition: The trail is well marked for the most part. Once you get to Snowmass Lake, it’s easy to miss the proper trail.  I have taken pictures to help you along the way. Just stay near the water and in the willows. Once you’re above treeline, there’s also a dirt trail you can go up vs. bouldering straight through the large basin/gully. When you start nearing the steepest cliff like area, you’ll need to check each rock for your hands and feet as they are very loose.

I was originally going to climb the West Slopes because it was such a significantly shorter route, but upon reading the directions, I realized I’d be stuck on a road yet again for 13 miles and I’d only be saving 1 mile off my total distance. From where I was in Aspen, it was also only a 30 minute drive vs. having to drive another hour and a half to get to the other side of the mountain.

It was a nice easy ride to the trailhead. Not long after I pulled into my parking spot, a big black suburban pulled in next to me. As I started to pack and get ready for the next day, I started a conversation with the four men; Matt, Greg, Dave and his son Steven. They were from Kansas and had only been in for a day and were planning on re-hiking this mountain since last time, one of them had gotten hurt and couldn’t complete it. This gentleman, Dave, had climbed 52 of the 14ers and Snowmass would be number 53!

I asked them what time they were planning on leaving in the morning and they said 3am. I thought 4:30am was early as it was, but they reminded me of how long of a hike we were all headed in for. As I remarked on how I hate being in the dark that long, they offered to let me tag along with them. I didn’t want to intrude on their time, but at the same time, didn’t want to do this hike alone, so I set my alarm for 2:30am in the morning and slept the best I could for a few hours in my car.

We ended up leaving at 3:10am, and we were off to a really great pace! They really surprised me for only being in for a day! We were averaging 2.8 miles per hour. It was an extremely gradual climb to get to Snowmass Lake. It felt like we were in the dark forever, but Matt’s stories of all the other mountains they climbed made it entertaining. There was a great pond we had to cross over using a damn of old logs and soon we were following a lively creek up to the Snowmass Lake.

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived to Snowmass Lake. It took my breath away…It was massive, crystal clear and tropical aqua blue and the sun was hitting Snowmass Mountain perfectly. It was too bad that the water was so cold, it would have been nice to take a dip on the way down! We had gone 8 miles and stopped to eat and refill our water bottles and bags. These guys were really great about stopping often, rehydrating and refueling. Yes it probably made the hike a few hours longer than what I would have normally done, but it made it more enjoyable. They reminded me of a familiar quote, “It’s about the journey, not the destination”.

Matt had climbed the mountain before, and was only hiking with us to the lake. That left Greg, Dave and Steve and I to hike to the summit. It made me feel that much more comfortable and confident knowing they had climbed the mountain before. There were many paths just past the mouth of the lake and we took a route going higher into the mountains. Not too long after we headed that direction, we realized that we were going the wrong way. The 14ers.com directions had noted to stay close to the lake, but they didn’t specify exactly how close was close or which trail to take just past the lake. Once realizing our mistake we traveled off trail down the hillside and eventually found the right trail again.

Finally we had arrived at the base of Snowmass Mountain, and the real work would begin. We traveled up the boulder field following cairnes and climbing over boulders at first. Soon Steven realized that there was a dirt path leading up the far right side, near the creek. There was still some scree, but it took less of our energy. It was a long haul to the top. Nearing the top, you cross over and go into the dirt and grass. The trail is faint and fairly hard to keep track of through here. Climbing over the steepest part, we then made our way up a grassy open area where we could see the the actual summit of Snowmass Mountain.

The directions were pretty clear to follow and eventually we were now at the steepest part of our climb, up a short cliff side. There was a trail going up even through the cliff side, but we quickly realized it was going to be crucial to check our every step and hand grip because the rocks were loose. As I was climbing a lose rock the size of a basketball slipped down and trapped my foot. It hurt, and I couldn’t lift it off of me. Steven quickly came over and lifted it off with ease. Luckily I was fine and just had a tiny scratch on my leg.

The rest of the hike is what would classify the mountain as class 3. There was  more exposure, and as I mentioned, the rocks were loose. A couple of the guys had brought their helmets, but left them in the lower boulder field. It was dangerous, and a couple of times I got nervous, but it was doable. Especially with Steven and Dave leading the way as they had climbed it before. I wish I would have taken photos of this, but at this point my focus was on climbing and not falling.

Slowly and carefully we finally made it to the summit and it was a very small area, but the views were spectacular! It was a little chilly, and the guys were in a hurry to get off the summit. They knew we had a long way to go to get back to our cars. We had been climbing 9 hours at this point, but I was feeling fairly good. I was eating a lot more than I usually did going up, and I could tell it made a difference. I also think it helped my stomach ache go away. In the beginning of the hike I was taking swigs of my Pepto, but by the time we were heading back down, I was feeling much better.

It was a very complicated, slow decent from the ridge, and I was tired enough that I wanted to avoid any possibility of going down because we would have to regain it. Greg was leading me through, and as he took a turn around the corner and went down, I decided to follow another path that went up vs. down, and it lead me down a very steep gully. I thought Greg would be right on the other side, but I was completely separated. I didn’t feel comfortable going up, so I slowly made my way down the very steep gully clinging to the rocky wall. At the bottom, I poked my head around the corner and saw that I had magically caught up to Steven and Dave. I told them I got separated from Greg and after trying to yell for Greg multiple times, Steven ditched his pack and climbed back up the cliff to get him. I felt to bad! I should have never separated myself from him! Greg had gone back to look for me and was concerned that something had happened to me. I apologized profusely. I thought of the guy on Harvard who ditched his girlfriend. Greg hardly knew me and went back for me!

Snowmass 35

The way down was enjoyable and Greg and I got to know each other more. I shared with him why I was doing this trip, and how important God was to me and it opened up a beautiful conversation of honesty and depth. He assured me that I was everything I needed to be including beauty. I wish I could just see it myself… After slowly navigating the first long gully/basin, we were now taking the trail that closely followed the lake. We had missed it on the way to the summit, and I was almost happy we had. The whole way was lined with willows and whipped us and gashed Dave on the arm.

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We took another rest at the lake and refilled our water. I couldn’t believe how pure the water tasted. Dave decided to take off a little sooner than the rest of us anticipating that we would be faster than him, but Greg and I never saw Steven or Dave for the remainder of the hike. We tried to keep up a pace of 3 miles per hour, but our bodies were so sore and stiff at this point that even when we got a good pace going, Greg and I would have to stop to stretch.

My legs had never been so sore and tired and my feet hurt so bad. I could have jogged down the trail, but I felt bad leaving Greg alone, especially after he had helped me get to the top. Every mile than .1 mile I’d announce how much further we had to go to motivate us that we were making progress. Being in that much pain, I also knew that I’d be a focused on that if I were alone so I gladly stayed with Greg the whole way back to our vehicles! I laid in the parking lot massaging my feet while I borrowed my foam roller to Greg. I gave them my card to my blog, and wished them well on the rest of their weekend! They called me crazy, but wished me the best as well.

**Update: Dave and their other friend Dave successfully climbed Mount of the Holy Cross yesterday, making that their 54th peak! I tear up at the the emotion I’ll feel when I come to that moment in time. To the Glory and Will of God, it will be done!

Change of Plans: A Very Big “Duh” Moment

Things are about to really pick up around here!

I was texting a gentleman today who Alix and I had met at the Vail Brewing Company  the night before we left for Harvard and Columbia (yummy beer and fun atmosphere, by the way). His name is David, and he is actually a part of the Mountain Rescue Team in Vail. So as you can imagine, he’s seen some s**t. He was asking me if I planned on hiking in the snow this fall. I was naively hoping that I just wouldn’t run into it, or not enough of it to slow me down too much. Then I realized, “Crap, if I continue the way I’m going, I’ll be hiking the most technical mountains in the snow!!!” Not only do I have little technical experience, but to put snow on top of that, is just plain stupid. I bet some of you were already thinking that before I became enlightened today! I did get a month membership at Vertical Endeavors and climbed as often as I could before I left and I was fairly good at it. BUT, I never got certified to self-belay or clip ropes or anything like that… side note… I should probably go to Sports Authority today and buy a helmet- yup- that’s a great idea.

So with my new epiphany, I’ve spent my day rerouting my course and looking over the class 4 mountains carefully. Here’s the data I have:

  1. Like I mentioned, to get them all done, I need to hike two days, and rest one day until the very end.
  2. I have one, class 1 mountain; seventeen, class 2 mountains; ten, class 3 mountains; and four, class 4 mountains left to climb.

I’ll be heading to the Elk Range this week. There are two class 2’s, two class 3’s, and two class 4’s. After attempting Pyramid Peak, I’ll make my decision if I’m ready for Capital Peak. This mountain has the highest exposure of the 14er routes I’ll be doing, and has the dreaded “Knife’s Edge”.

Google Image of Knife's Edge.

Google Image of Knife’s Edge.

I’ll then make my way to the Sangre De Cristo Range, then San Juan, hopefully climb Longs Peak with Jessica and friends, and finish the remainder of the Sawatch Range which are all class 2 mountains which by that time there may be snow.

So far I’ve been climbing nothing but class 1 and class 2 mountains.This should be a real wake up call! Is it strange that I’m completely floored to climb Capitol?! I know I can’t get too proud, and I know I can only truly do this with God’s grace, wisdom and protection. David was trying to instill fear in me, but somehow it just instilled determination. “Faith Greater Than Fear”, right? I have to at least try! I can always turn around and go back and come back with a buddy. Speaking of which, David also gave me the great idea of trying to team up with some of the people on 14ers.com. This is such a genius idea! Pray for me that I would have experienced hikers to come with me on these class 4 mountains!

8 Things That I Am Grateful For Thus Far…

After writing my list of annoyances, it only seems natural to follow up with a list of things that I am grateful for!

1) Quieting the World: It has been so amazing to shut away some of the craziness of the world. I can finally hear myself think! Although, it’s been a little hard for me to be okay with the quietness because I feel like I should be doing something productive when it comes along. But at least for a while, no one’s telling me I should be doing this, or I should be doing that. I do enough of that on my own and it’s the thief of contentment.

2) Connecting with God: Again, with all the demands of us Americans and the constant expectations and need for calculations and strategy, it’s hard to slow down and make time for God. It’s the one thing he wants from us more than anything: A relationship. But so far in life, like most, I’ve been too busy worrying and trying to survive this uptight world. When I get brief moments of connection with God, I know he’s asking me to seek him more, and to worry less. On this trip, I will make an honest effort to building a stronger foundation so I’ll have it when I go back into the real world.

3) The People I’ve Met Along the Way: I have been so blessed on this trip by wonderful strangers. Out of the goodness of their heart, they have helped me several times out of a bad situation. They’ve offered me a window into their personal space and wisdom for my own life. They have freely given encouragement and some have offered their companionship which I have been so grateful for!

4) The People in My Life: I am so grateful for my friends and my parents that have made a continuous effort to reach out to me and offer me encouragement. Not to mention all the support I receive on Facebook. People give Facebook a lot of crap, but I am so thankful for it and for the tidbits of my friends and family’s lives that I get to see from afar.

5) The Revelations: While I’m out here I have found some amazing books to help me process my past. This trip is to also allow myself space for self-forgiveness and to find self-love and I only pray that my insights I gain can help someone else.

6) Strength Against ED: My friends, my family, and my treatment team weren’t so sure that this trip would offer me good help against my eating disorder. While I haven’t been perfect, I know that my symptom use is down considerably, as well as my body checking. Food has once again become fuel vs. an enemy. The thoughts are still there, but they aren’t as strong. Having a strong, able body is of so much more importance.

7) Strength in Coping: I have had a lot of things go wrong along this trip, but I am coping with them better than I would have in the past. Being out in the country doesn’t afford me the opportunity to rush to a grocery store to numb bad feelings. I have to work through them, and I have to deal with them in a different way. I cry, I pray, I process, I blog, I accept and when needed, I figure it out. If I had better phone service, I’d probably reach out more too.

8) My Blog: I am so grateful for this blog. Sometimes it can cause me stress because I get behind, but what it really allows me to do is slow down, and process things. I get to enjoy my accomplishments of the mountains I have climbed and reflect back on all my blessings and the obstacles I have overcome. What I’m most thankful for, is that it’s offered some people hope and inspiration; which was my main purpose of doing this! May it be all for your Glory, Abba!

Already after writing this, I’m in a better mood. I’ve been told many times by therapists to write down lists of gratitude at the end of each day. It really takes commitment, but I think it would be well worth it. First things first though. First, I will work on praying every night, then I’ll take on something new.

P.S. and #9) I’m really happy that my tent has remained waterproof and has kept me dry from this weather this week!