Revised May 12, 2022
One of the more challenging things I have done is hike/climb to the summit of a mountain, especially one over 14,000 feet. The altitude really hits you above the tree line and the thought of quitting runs through your head. The air is so thin that trees can't grow, so the terrain is rough, full of boulders and rocks. As a result, it is more difficult to breathe.
Don't you Dare Quit
When you reach the saddle, you are almost there, but the most difficult part of the climb is still to come. Getting to the summit often requires using your hands and scrambling up steep incline. In such thin air, you struggle to breathe and gasp for air. You begin your final assent with the thought of quitting taking over your mind. As much as you want reasons to quit, it's not necessary to look far, since you are surrounded by them.
Life is filled with challenges, and sometimes it seems as though they keep piling up. Life is too short not to find creative ways to overcome them. I climbed my first mountain in 2015, Medicine Bow Peak at 12,018 feet in Wyoming. When I reached the saddle, I had 2 options; get down on my hands and knees and climb up the boulders or go up the last 600 feet or so up the snow/ice field. I decided to scramble up the boulders, about halfway up my hands were numb from grabbing the ice-cold boulders and my knees were screaming to stop. I decided to take a break. Looking up the peak, quitting seemed logical. When I looked down the mountain to see how far I had come, I knew I was not going to give up! When I finally reached the summit, I was overcome with a huge sense of relief and knew that I had just kicked those obstacles in the rear.
But I'd have to Miss the Dance
My most recent ascent was Mt. Sherman in Colorado in August 2020. Since I wanted to get an early start, I stayed at the trailhead the night before to ensure I could start before sunrise. Throughout the night I kept staring at the mountain, all 14,035 feet. I looked up at it and wondered how I would be able to climb it. I felt butterflies floating around in my stomach all night because I was intimidated by the mountain. I slept little that night. But the next morning those butterflies were gone, and three and a half hours later I reached the summit. The view was spectacular. On a clear day you can see for hundreds of miles in every direction. I always come away amazed with the gorgeous views and feel a sense of serenity seeing things from above.