Another glorious fall in the mountains is upon us! But tonight I’m throwing it back to August reviewing photos – foggy, rainy, soggy, cold, windy – from my latest hiking successful almost-disaster.
The #QueenPeaks (Audrey and Keebler) visited in August just like they do every year and we set out to tackle another 14er. This time, it was actually 4 at one time (Lincoln, Cameron, Democrat, Bross). The Colorado sites all say this hike is no big deal. Naturally, I cursed those sites all the way up and then down each summit. But we did it.
We ate our usual PB&Js after summiting the second peak. We got lost after the 3rd peak. We met a father and son combo with better map reading skills than us, and a lot more confidence in their navigational skills than we had. We took pictures at the top of each peak, even though you literally couldn’t see a single thing, except our huge smiles. We froze, encouraged each other, discussed the virtues of our varying levels of waterproofed gear. We laughed a ton. We asked multiple times, should we keep going? The answer was always yes, until it wasn’t after Peak 3 but then we accidentally made our way to Peak 4 and all high-fived and hugged.
After each challenging hike, I walk away with a lesson. The first 14er I hiked – Pike’s Peak – I learned about patience and the importance of planning a solid route. The second one, from August of 2015, Grey’s and Torrey’s, I learned my ankles much prefer high hiking boots and that Audrey is a master at creating detailed trail guides.
This one has some very valuable lessons:
- There’s no McDonald’s open at 3am between my house and the trailhead which meant no Egg McMuffin. I believe in Egg McMuffin’s as one of the most perfect foods so this was a bummer.
- I get lost on my way to every 14er Trailhead I’ve attempted to get to. Maps, Eliza, maps!
- Waterproof pants and trekking poles are on my Christmas list this year.
- Walking in sleet for two hours without waterproof pants or gloves sucks.
- Physically, I’m the wussiest of the #QueenPeaks, but I bring a great attitude and an even head in tricky situations, which has to count for something, right?
And the most important lesson? Trust. The father/son combo we met ended up being saving graces. By the time we’d met them, we were very cold, very stiff, very tired, very over it. But the five of us trekked on to the top of the 4th peak and down what we learned was the wrong path off the mountain. When the path we were on ended (at some abandoned mines – very cool!), we had to scramble up the side of the mountain which is tough when you’re as beat as we were. The dad offered his hand out to get me over a ledge and I took it, 15 minutes into meeting these folks, I trusted them wholeheartedly and really enjoyed chatting about our strategy off the mountain. The trust I have in Audrey and Keebler is endless, and on each adventure we go on, I’m reminded of how lucky I am. The three of us have a blast, but we also balance each other in any questionable situations (on and off the mountain). And trust in myself and my body.
With the right motivators (a warm car, a beer, beef jerky, etc.) plus the positive encouragement of people I adore, I can really tackle any challenge I put my mind to, even when my body is giving up on me. It’s a pretty darn cool thing.