I Could have Missed the Pain

I've done some physically challenging things in my life and one of the more difficult ones has been hiking/climbing to the summit of a mountain, especially a 14,000-footer. Once you get above the tree line the altitude really hits you and the idea of quitting starts running through your mind. The air is so thin there's not enough oxygen for trees to grow so the terrain is rugged, full of rocks and boulders. Breathing begins to be more difficult!

Medicine Bow Peak

Don't you Dare Quit

Once you reach the saddle then you are almost there, but the most challenging climb is still ahead. The boulders are huge and getting to the summit can require using your hands and scrambling up the steep incline. The air is so thin you struggle to breathe and begin to gasp for air. As you begin the final assent, the thought of quitting takes over your thoughts. You look for reasons to justify quitting, but you really don't have to look far as you are surrounded by them.

Life is full of so many challenges and somedays they seem to keep piling on. Life is too short not to find ways to overcome those obstacles. The first mountain I climbed was in 2015 in Wyoming, Medicine Bow Peak at 12,018 ft. 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. As I looked up the peak quitting seemed like the logical choice. Then, I looked down the mountain to see how far I came, I knew there was no way I was going to quit! And, once I got to the summit to see the incredible views and see what I had accomplished, I felt a huge sense of relief and knew I just kicked those obstacles butt.

Ascent to Medicine Bow Peak
Looking down Medicine Bow Peak

But I'd have to Miss the Dance

My most recent summit was in June of this year, Mt. Sherman in Colorado. I wanted to get an early start so I stayed at the trailhead the night before to make sure I could start before the sunrise. Throughout the night I kept staring at the mountain, all 14,035 feet. It seemed enormous as I looked up and wondered if I could make the climb. The mountain intimidated me and all night I felt butterflies floating around in my stomach. I didn't sleep much. But the next morning those butterflies were gone and 3 1/2 hours later I reached the summit, once again overcoming all the obstacles along the way. The views from the summit were amazing. 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.

Ascent to Mt. Sherman
View of Mt. Sherman Trail