My Crazy, Impulsive Adventure
This article is for the impulsive among us…so if you think things through well before jumping in with both feet or in my case a backpack, then read it to your spouse. I thank God for my analytical spouse—most of the time. But for those of you more like myself who jump and then think…this article might be helpful to you or at the least a bit entertaining!
During a church service this past spring where my pastor’s wife joked about climbing Longs Peak, the idea was born….I should climb Longs Peak! After all it’s only 14,259 ft. and one of the longest, most difficult 14’ers in Colorado. I laugh now as I type this. Really? What WAS I thinking?
I WAS thinking I’m not getting any younger (52 now), my boys have done it multip
le times (in their 20’s), and it would be a great reason to get in shape (which I was pitifully out of when I started.) So without any further thought, I searched the internet for a climbing fitness plan and began my personal journey of climbing Longs Peak.
Always excited about new adventures, I told friends, family and any random people at Wal-Mart who would listen. My boys were excited as well. Donovan secured a permit to camp at Boulder field on July 31 with the summit coming the next day (August 1st). Having hiked Longs Peak himself, and knowing me well, he realized I could not complete a 15-hour hike in one day—even after 12 weeks of strenuous training.
The training was…let’s just say—HARD! I honestly worked up to more squats, crunches, push-ups, etc., etc., than I ever imagined I could do in one day. Then to add to it, we had one of the hottest Missouri summers which made long hikes with a pack nearly impossible unless you started at 5 AM—which I did.
About a month into training, I read the Longs Peak brochure complete with terrifying photos and all. Click here to see the full brochure. https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/upload/keyhole_route_2011a.pdf
Let me summarize the brochure. “This is a hike where you will probably die.” Fact is, over 60 people have died climbing Longs Peak so it was a legitimate concern. The NPS brochure had its intended effect and terrified me. I called the boys, “What am I thinking? I can’t do this.” They reassured me that it wasn’t that bad and to keep training, although I think they had their private doubts about the reality of me reaching the summit. But I am not a quitter and although I was terrified for a few days, I remembered our family motto, “Colegrove’s never quit” and so I kept training.
The rest of the summer was filled with the buying of equipment, exercising and hiking A LOT! Many friends encouraged me along the way and a few even hiked or worked out with me. Finally the day came and we flew to Colorado with our suitcases stuffed with camping and hiking equipment. We went 5 days early in attempt to try to acclimate to the elevation change. These were fun days, but all of us kept the goal in the back of our minds of finishing the week with our hike up Longs Peak.
We started out on the afternoon of July 31. I was both excited and somewhat terrified, wondering what the afternoon held. Could we make it? My niece Erica came with us and I knew my brother would never forgive me if his daughter fell to her death. Erica and I actually had that conversation and she reassured me at 27, she was making her own decision. So we started our adventure and headed up to the Boulder field with backpacks filled with gear. Even though I had never hiked at that elevation carrying that heavy of a backpack before, my enthusiasm was high. I was sure I could make it. My enthusiasm slowed a bit along the way as my backpack straps started cutting into my shoulders, which was extremely painful but everyone was carrying a HEAVY load and I knew I had to continue to press on.
Then the rain started, at first light but eventually coming so hard it forced us to build a temporary shelter with tent rain tarps. As we huddled under our tarps, I seriously thought the dream was over. We were freezing, our gloves were wet and cold and our backpacks and all of our gear were soaked. After sitting under our tarps for a bit, the rain passed, the sun came out and we witnessed an amazing double rainbow. I took it as God’s promise that I would make the summit. However, as I limped into the Boulder field hours later, I again had serious doubts. A training injury in my hip was getting worse and I just didn’t think I could go on in the morning.
As the sun arose, the beauty of God’s amazing creation re-energized me. After we all enjoyed the great breakfast Donovan had made, we were off to undertake the rest of our intense climb to the summit. We got to the Key Hole and started across the Ledges—a narrow part with exposure and long drop offs. At this point, two members of our party decided they were pleased with how far they had come and decided to turn back. I was surprised by their decision, but didn’t give up. We trudged along and reached the summit around 11 AM. It was beyond amazing! I had completed my FIRST 14’er at 52 years old with both of my sons! YEAH!
As if the climb wasn’t terrifying enough, the boys had convinced me it would be easier to repel off the top instead of climbing the whole way back down. I had never rappelled before, so it was completely terrifying and honestly I didn’t think I could do it. But after much encouragement from my oldest son, I did it, I rappelled 350’.
You may be asking why I chose to write about this experience. I think that this is a reminder that we need to challenge ourselves to do things beyond our ability. Besides, climbing Longs Peak can in some ways resemble the journey we are on in life.
Life is way too short to stay in our safe comfort zones and wonder why we are bored with life. So I’m challenging you to ask the following questions…….
- What is your comfort zone?
- What needs changing in your life?
- What is God calling you to do that you have been putting off or flat out said “no” because it involves risk?
What did I learn during this crazy, impulsive adventure?
- We need other people’s help along the way.
- I would never have made it without Greg, Donovan and Devon encouraging me to keep on keeping on.
- Doubt, fear, and terror are part of the journey.
- I had to overcome them to finish well.
- Include God in your journey!
- It is God who gave me supernatural strength when I had nothing left of my own. (Laying in my tent in the Boulder Field doubting I could reach the summit the next day.)
- Keep walking….
- for hours…
- in the rain…
- in the sun…
- in pain.
- And don’t look too far ahead or down…seriously, not down!
- When others turn back, let them go, don’t follow them.
- Keep your eye on your goal.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare…
- I worked out even when I REALLY didn’t want to. 95 degrees and 95% humidity in Missouri. Squats and Mountain Climbers until my legs were aching. Walking stadium steps with sweat dripping off because the real journey was HARDER than I imagined it would be.
- Obstacles will come
- Poison ivy, blisters, heat, discouragement, fear, expense, loss
- Many battles are internal—you will have to fight them alone.
- Discouragement. Doubt.
- Have a good guide who’s been there ahead of you. (or incredible sons!)
- The guide instills confidence and helps you not waste time or energy, both of which are essential to finishing well.
- A guide keeps you safe from unknown danger and points the way to the summit.
- Commit your journey to the Lord and enjoy the whole journey.
- While the eye is on the goal there is much to be enjoyed along the way. Friends, family, conversation, beautiful flowers, rainbows, ptarmigans, marmots, pica, ground squirrels, waterfalls, sunsets, sunrises, gorgeous rocks, clean, crisp water, hilarious moments, scenic views along the way and from the top, and last of all EVEN rappelling.
So what’s next in this crazy impulsive therapist’s life?…seriously I am running a half-marathon in two weeks! And no, I did not realize the amount of training it required and yes, I would have quit already but I convinced three girlfriends to run with me…but that’s a story for another day!
My message to you is BE ENCOURAGED, get out of your comfort zone & truly LIVE! And if you need help with your journey to a better marriage, I would love jump in with both feet and help you find the way to a GREAT marriage!