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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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#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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#19 Mount Sherman: August 2nd, 2015

Mount Sherman

  • Height: 14,036 ft.
  • Range: Mosquito Range
  • Route: Southwest Ridge from Fourmile Creek
  • Distance: 5.25 mi.
  • Elevation Gain: 2,100 ft.
  • Time started: 8:50am
  • End time: 10:50am
  • Time to Summit: 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Time to Descent: 38 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: The road seems to go on forever! There are a lot of jagged rocks on the road that make me squirm in my car seat. But a sedan should have no problems making it to the trailhead. Just make sure you have good tires.
  • Trail Condition: You start above treeline which is pretty nuts. Needed to pull out my directions a couple times. Hiking with a lot of people made it a lot easier to find the trail. The trail is no longer hidden in snow as well. Trail is 98% clear of snow.

First of all, happy 32nd birthday brother! I may be far away, but it’s allowing me to be more present and aware of the true priorities in life. I have a clear goal in mind and in the past it would have definitely kept me from enjoying the small things and people in my life. Balance has always been a problem for me in my life, maybe you can relate?

Doing Sherman was a great choice as far as finding balance. My body needed an easy hike to recover from the previous hikes this week. Monday I had severe stomach aches on Mount of the Holy Cross, Wednesday was the longest hike of my life climbing Mount Harvard and Columbia for 12.5 hours, Friday was a hike of unrecovered burning legs on Mount Yale, and Saturday was a push to get Belford and Oxford because my body was starting to really get sore and damaged.

Luckily, my Achilles was feeling much better when I woke up this morning to climb Mount Sherman. I ended up sleeping in my car again because I got a late start towards Fairplay. I ended up taking a four hour nap after climbing Belford and Oxford! I know I’ll be sleeping a lot more than usual and that’s just the way it is. I accept it and it’s not because I’m lazy or depressed. My knowledge from being a personal trainer knows that sleeping time is restoring time.

The road to get to the trailhead seemed to go on forever. It is very rocky and very bumpy, which keeps going 15 miles per hour and not any faster. The last time that I was on this road, my tire popped and I thought I was stranded.

I was already crabby that day because the weather that week had only allowed me to climb Quandary. I was so tired of being so cold at the summit that I’d thought I’d try climbing at noon when it was warmer. It still wasn’t warm, it was raining, and it was windy as hell. I made it over a mile up the trial, but I didn’t have the directions printed off, my GPS died, and I couldn’t find any cairns. I plopped down on the rocks and cried, “this was supposed to be the easy one!” Weeping, I dragged my feet back to my car.

I went down and far back instead of taking the upper route which was covered in snow previously.

I went down and far back instead of taking the upper route which was covered in snow previously.

As I started to drive, my steering wheel kept turning weirdly. I got out of my car to see what was going on only to find that my front driver side tire was completely flat. I knew I didn’t have service, I didn’t know how to put on a spare, and I was the only soul on the mountain. I started to cry yet again in complete panic and disbelief. I had no idea what to do… hike all the way out of there to find help?

Out of no where, these two older women ATVing that day approached me. They asked if I was okay, and with tears in my eyes I shook my head no. They immediately started calling people to help me out. They assured me they weren’t going to leave me alone on top of this mountain. We started the process of taking the wheel off, and soon two older gentlemen came to the rescue and finished the job.

I gave each of them a hug in gratitude and they gave me all of their phone numbers and told me to call them if I needed anything else. They even followed me down the mountain to make sure I got out of the roughest part of the road okay. God was with me once again as he always is, and even sent me five angels. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about that day and how blessed I am.

Even with the nap, I was still starting to nod off at the wheel around 9:15pm. I found a place to park my car right outside Horseshoe Campground and slept there until 7:30am the next morning. Finally I had reached the trailhead and was so relieved to see multiple cars there! I couldn’t get lost this time! I started up the familiar trail at 8:50am. A late start, but I knew I wanted to do this mountain for time. I was kind of over climbing this week, and wanted to get up and down this one as fast as I could so I could relax the rest of the day and Monday.

Despite my previous bad experience, I actually do like Mount Sherman. All the abandoned mines and houses were really neat to see! I could feel the presence of the past as I climbed. I rarely stopped on my way up except to snap a few photos of the beautiful surroundings and views of all the people climbing that day. I had my music going and it was motivating me to push myself. I passed multiple people on the way up and many remarked on how good of an idea that was. If only they knew that I had climbed 6 mountains earlier that week.

The last stretch of the mountain is flat and easy to get to the highest portion of the mountain. At least on the weekend, I never have a problem finding a nice person to take a picture of me on the summit. It’s especially nice since I don’t have my tripod with me. I forgot that and my GPS in Montana. Ohhhh how I miss my GPS!!  Luckily it’s in the mail and I should have it Monday. Yay!

You may have also noticed that I’m no longer holding my signs anymore. Honestly, they were a nuisance and I could never give them the time that I would have liked. Writing this blog, updating Facebook and my page is enough work and gives me little time to get ready for my next hike. Hopefully I’ll find time to paint after this journey and reignite a passion for it again. Right now I’m still annoyed by it.

The way down I just ran! I slipped a few times on the shale, and while it startled other people on the trail, I couldn’t be phased by it anymore. Not after my experience on Mt. Columbia. Side note, I looked at the soles of my hiking boots and all my grips on the toe portion has been completely warn off!! No wonder I slip around so much! I would love to get new hiking shoes, but it’s just not in the budget. At least I know now that it’s not my technique that’s awful, it’s just my shoes. Running down almost the entire time I managed to make it down by 10:50am! A guy remarked on how I crushed it, and I felt pretty proud of myself. I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon in Breckenridge and Denver on Monday, just resting.

View of valley coming down.

View of valley coming down.

Extra Credit: Emigrant Peak, MT, July 14th, 2015

Emigrant Peak

  • Height: 10,950 ft.
  • Route: 45.26000°N / 110.69°W
  • Distance: 10-15 mi. (couldn’t gather info from GPS)
  • Elevation Gain: 5,000 ft.
  • Time started: 7am
  • End time: 4:50pm for me, 7pm for the rest
  • Time to Summit: 6 hours and 30 minutes
  • Time to Descent: 2 hours and 20 minutes
  • GEAR (to bring):
    • GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, day pack with water sack, LOTS of food, sunscreen, lip balm.
  • Road Condition: Once on Gold Prize Creek, the road is manageable even for a sedan. There is one large pot hole right before the trailhead, but with care and going into the grass you can avoid any damage.
  • Trail Condition: Narrow and wild. Expect lots of stickers, and weeds hitting your legs in the beginning. Also, for a good portion of the hike there is A LOT of scree on the trail which makes for a slippery descent once out of treeline.

It was only our third day in Chico and despite little time to get acclimated, my Uncle had his heart set on climbing Emigrant Peak the next morning. I thought it was only going to be my Uncle, myself and maybe two of my cousins. To my surprise, my aunt and cousin Cassidy had also intended to climb. Before I knew it, nine of us were convinced to climb.

Emigrant Peak, the peak to the right.

Emigrant Peak, the peak to the right.

We hit the trail by 7am, and everyone was in great spirits. We had all been told that the climb would be a total of 5 miles. With frequent stops, we all thought we could make it to the top. Laughing and joking we were on our way. About an hour and a half into our climb my cousin had enough with not being able to catch her breath. She knew it was going to be hard, but she hadn’t planned on her asthma being so bad. When the blisters set in, it was an easy decision to head back to the car to wait for us. Off she went with our bear spray. We were now left with a pistol for defense, and a total count of eight people.

Everyone was concerned about encountering a bear. I should have been more concerned, but with all the noise we were making, I wasn’t concerned. The whole way back, Cassidy was clanking the bear spray against her water bottle. By the time she had gotten back, her metal water bottle looked like it was purposely hammered. She had honestly quit at the perfect time because right around the corner was our first crazy and long incline through the treeline. Up we went slipping on the steep incline, all lungs on fire. My lungs personally were doing okay at that point, but my calves were on fire. I was nearly 4,000 feet lower than what I was used to so my lungs were above and beyond acclimated.

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Arriving at the top took a lot out of my aunt. It was a lot of ATP energy used to get up that hill. As I have stated before, when you tap into ATP energy and your not used to it, your going to poop out fast. Somehow she knew we had a long way to go (the rest of us were naive) so she decided to stop by a nearby tree and wait for us there with the pistol in case a bear meandered her way. We were now down to seven.

There was what felt like, the longest, steepest prairie next. This was the point where we all really started to slow down. Everyone was really feeling the altitude. I was just so happy to be on a hike with family at that point that I didn’t mind the frequent stops for them to catch their breathe.

I knew how they were feeling. They looked the same as me when I was up another 3,000 feet of altitude. Soon we came to a rock known as “Big Rock” and stopped there for our lunch. Most of us had thought we would be done by noon, so we packed just enough for lunch and a small snack. Plus, we thought it was only 5 miles!

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Once past “Big Rock”, and out of treeline, we met a whole lot of scree and another steep climb. Including the 14ers, this was the steepest climb I had done so far! My poor family… most of them had never climbed a mountain before. What a rude introduction!

It looked as if we were so close now. I kind of knew better by the size of the few pine trees seen, but I didn’t dare fill in my family. I thought, maybe another hour and I’d be there. At that point I was more ready to get to the top than wait for my family. Off I went and made huge gains, but would stop and wait for my family again. At a point there was a very rocky upright section that we needed to climb. This part was my favorite. I love when the mountain is just steep enough to use your hands and feet to get up, but not steep enough where you need ropes or have to fear losing your life. Everyone even with fear made it up! We were still at seven!

My soon to be cousin was in great shape and was keeping up with me without much trouble. I guess 3 days of spinning and 2 days of running a week will help a person out! We were together most of the time until nearing the summit. I couldn’t wait to get up there and took off. I was the first to summit and Michelle was maybe 15 minutes behind me. The summit was beautiful! The surrounding mountains had such vibrant colors of scree. Walking around the summit, we found not one geological marker, but three! We also saw a memorial, a time capsule and could spot the Grand Tetons way off in the distance!

An hour later, my Uncle Bob made it to the summit. At 57, we were all impressed. He never gives up on anything. We were surprised to hear he almost quit twice, but we all knew he never would. He wouldn’t allow it. He had the same mindset as me. One foot in front of the other eventually gets you there! You have 200 feet to go; you have 100 feet to go; 20 feet to go! I was curious where my cousin Amber and soon to be cousin Cory were, but was informed that they decided to head back down. They were so close!!!  But they were worn out by all the false summits. I don’t blame them. It’s so disheartening when you think you’re really almost there and so tired, and then find out there’s still more to go. The total count to the summit was five!

And then there were 5!

And then there were 5!

We were all starving again by 3:30pm when Uncle Bob arrived. Luckily the mom of the pack, my Aunt Melissa packed extra food. I was freezing at this point. and said, “See ya later!”. They soon followed, but my experience on the 14ers was getting me down far more quickly than the rest. I was sad to be leaving my family, but I wanted off that mountain more. We’d been hiking for 8.5 hours already!!!

Full Panoramic of the summit.

Full Panoramic of the summit.

Magnificent God given Beauty.

Magnificent God given Beauty.

Brett (who climbed Mt. Shavano and La Plata Peak with me) and I make a joke of how many times we fall down on the mountain on our descent. I usually fall down no more than four times on my butt. Brett usually comes close to falling, but always forward. Personally, I’d rather fall on my butt 10 times before falling forward! I wasn’t laughing this time though. The trail was horrible. I slipped a total of 9 times and a couple times I fell hard. It wasn’t before long I caught up to Amber and Cory. I went down with them for a while and they stopped at “Big Rock” for a break, but I kept going. Now that I was in the prairie, I could start jogging down the steep hillside.

My legs were propelling themselves at this point, it was more work to slow down. My Aunt Melissa had left her tree and I was sure she was back in the comfort of her car. I arrived back at the car at 4:50pm. I was so happy to see that dang car! It had only taken me 2 hours and 20 minutes to get back down the mountain. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had done the mountain by myself, I could have done the climb in 6 hours.

A half hour later Cory and Amber found their way back to the car. Amber was near tears and exclaimed, “I’m so happy to see you guys!” Another hour and a half later, the rest arrived. Everyone was so crabby. While I had at least packed adequate water, the rest of the crew had run out by “Big Rock” and were without for the last couple hours. All of them had fallen many times as well and some had gashes along their legs. None of them would ever climb again. They felt they had come too close to death with the exposure to cliffs and dangerous exhaustion.

Again, we had no idea what to expect, but if any of them had known it was between 10-15 miles long, none would have attempted. I wanted to climb it again, but many family members were against it. I thought, even though it’s the most technical climb I’ve done so far, this is nothing compared to the ones coming my way in Colorado. I thought maybe this excursion would have built their confidence in me, instead, it had caused them to worry about me more. Dang it.

I’m now at Big Sky Resort for a week where Lone Mountain resides. It’s elevation is 11,166 feet and is 10.4 miles long. It quite possibly could be even more technical than Emigrant Peak. There is technically no trail, and it’s covered in scree, and has more edge exposure- awesome. I’m still going to give it shot, but it should be interesting…