My heart echoed each deep, strained breath I took as I trudged upward. The wind whipped at my skin, turning the sweat on my brow ice cold.
I glanced back down the mountain. I had come so far, but my muscles were tired and the air continued to get thinner and thinner the higher I climbed. I sat down on a boulder to relieve my aching shoulders from the weight of my pack. “I could call it a day and head back,” I thought. But I really couldn’t — I had come all this way with the encouragement and support of my friends and I had to finish. So I picked up my pack and continued on.
At the Base
The Rockies had been calling my name for some time, and when one of my best friends made the move out West I knew it was time to go.
During the four days of my visit we drove all over Colorado, soaking in the fresh air and mind blowing scenery. The majestic Rockies and the quality time with my best friend were exactly what my heart and soul needed. At the last minute, we decided to join our friends on the most challenging hike of our lives — our first 14-er. We were both up for the challenge, but I wasn’t truly prepared for what was in store.
I knew as we drove up to the base of the mountain that this wasn’t going to be easy. The higher we got, the more lightheaded I felt. My body wasn’t acclimated to the altitude due to my East Coast roots, so I began frantically gulping down water to ease my symptoms. We got out of the car and strapped our packs to our backs. Once everyone was ready, we began our journey to the top.
The first few miles were easy and the elevation change was mild. My head was still foggy, so I continued to suck down water and was able to soldier on.
But then we began to climb.
Over the next several miles the increase in elevation left me stumbling upwards and taking breaks every few minutes to catch my breath. I couldn’t look at the top of the mountain because it was so far away, so I kept my eyes focused on my friends in front of me. However at one point when I looked back, I was shocked by what I saw.
I was in awe, like a person might be if they just saw a celebrity. But this was better — a full, vibrant rainbow had stretched itself across the mountain valley below; an incredible gift given by God for everyone to see.
The sight of the rainbow renewed my motivation to carry on. After taking in the beautiful scene in front of us and snapping a few photos, we continued our upward journey.
A 14,000 Foot View
The closer we got to the peak of the mountain, the rockier the path became. As we climbed over giant boulders, the sun began to disappear behind the clouds and the wind picked up. All of us were freezing, but we could see the peak and kept on.
Then it started sleeting. It was cloudy and windy and sleeting and freezing and miserable. I didn’t want to be on the side of a mountain anymore — all I wanted was a fire, warm PJs, and to be anywhere but there. But because we were so close, I kept climbing over boulders, chanting to myself, “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.”
And then…we were there. We climbed over the final few boulders and found ourselves sitting on top of the world. We had conquered this 14,000 feet, behemoth of a mountain and were privy to a view like no other.
And though the sleet pelted us even harder once we arrived, I didn’t care — we had reached the summit.