Getting to the top is optional.
Getting down is Mandatory.
– Ed Viesturs (summited Mt. Everest 7 times)
A couple years ago one of my best friends, Jeremy, asked me if I wanted to climb a “14er” with him. A “14er” is a mountain peak that is more than 14,000 feet tall. I don’t exactly have a well-defined bucket list, but if I did climbing a 14er would be on it. Growing up in Kansas we spent alot of our vacations and spring breaks in Colorado skiing, mountain biking, or hiking in the Rocky Mountains. Colorado has forever been my 2nd…I mean now 3rd favorite state behind my home-state of Kansas and Well, a couple years ago I was in the middle of helping to plan my wedding. He asked me again last year but we were taking a family vacation at the same time they were going. He asked me again this year…glory be, I was free! The plan was set in motion to climb 14ers, finally. Then it hit me…I’m going to climb a 14er…I better get my butt in shape. I’m in fairly good shape, but playing in and adult soccer and softball league doesn’t exactly qualify as living my life according to a hard-core training regimen. So I set out to construct a training regiment that would at least get me to the top of the mountain and if all else fails I would fall back on gravity to get me back down the mountain – what goes up, must come down.
My training regimen consisted of 2 sets per day of: 40 sit-ups, 10 push-ups, 60 curls per arm (in various manners) of 20 pound weights, 3 minutes of leg-lifts, and finally running a total of 2 miles per day. The running portion was planned to be very beneficial since we live in an extremely hilly neighborhood – but then
tragedy over-zealousness struck me on the softball field. Three weeks before I was to leave for Colorado I was playing in a softball game and while sprinting to chase down a pop-up in foul territory I heard my short-stop yell, “You’ve got room.”, but then I felt my body hit what seemed like a mack-truck when in actuality it was the fence. Apparently I didn’t have enough room. In case you’re wondering, I actually caught the ball but when I hit the fence, in the same manner like cartoon characters who run through a wall and it leaves a cut-out of their body in the wall, I wasn’t that lucky. The fence jarred the ball free and it resulted in being a very dramatic strike 2 on the batter and left me with a wrecked ankle. When I hit the chain-link fence my body hit it and bounced off but my right ankle got caught in one of the holes of the fence and while my body fell my foot was still stuck in the fence and we’ll just say my ankle looked like a beach ball (swollen and colorful) about 15 seconds after the dramatic strike 2. One of my teammates said he thought I was dead since I took a little time to get up and my short-stop who told me, “You’ve got room”, shook his head and apologized repeatedly. Unfortunately my job doesn’t lend itself to staying off my ankle since I have to walk in to speak to the doctors instead of them coming out to my car to speak with me (the nerve), but I’ve normally been a quick healer my whole life and was hoping for that again. Thankfully this was the case again as I was able to start my training regimen again for my first 14er. While my ankle is still not 100% (two weeks after returning from the mountains), it was at least strong enough at the time for the hike.
I’m going to end the word description portion of this post and leave you with a picture description for the remainder of the adventure. All I can say is it was an amazing experience of enjoying God’s creation all around us for 4 days – picturesque scenery, wildlife running free, fresh mountain air, aromatic pine tree scents wafting all around us, babbling brooks of crisp mountain water, cold evenings curled up in our sleeping bags, crisp, early mornings and trying to wake up with our warm coffee, majestic views from just about everywhere, great companionship and dare I say, “fellowship”…and returning to our roots and basics of life and getting away from the phone, email, and civilization. Basic tasks of setting up my tent and pulling out my sleeping bag out of my pack actually left me quite winded and I would have to stop to catch my breath. We saw amazing wildlife – elk across the grassy ravines, mountain goats running and bounding up the rocks in our camp, porcupines walking right outside my tent since my tent was 5 feet from our “kitchen”, marmots and prairie dogs all over the place, and even a Disney movie-esque encounter with a hummingbird who flew into our group, hovered at eye-level, and stared at us as if to say, “Good morning, god-speed and safe travels on your journey gentlemen.”
So we packed everything we needed into our backpacks, used the streams and lakes for our water supply and had a fun and truly spiritual experience. As a bonus, we returned with the same number of people as we left with. 😉