July, 29th, 2019 will forever be a memorable day in my life. It was the day I successfully hiked to the the top of Gray’s peak here in Colorado. Gray’s peak is one of Colorado’s peaks affectionately known as a 14ner. A 14ner, as the name implies, is a mountain peak that is over 14, 000 feet above see level.
There are different classes of 14ners depending on difficulty, skills and equipment needed to make it to the summit. Gray’s peak is a class one peak so I did not need lots of extra equipment but it was far from easy. In fact, it was probably the most difficult physical challenge I have embarked upon to date.
As a backdrop to my story, some of my readers may know that in my early 50’s I began trail running with the help of my trainer, Mark. I had just finished a huge goal of completing a trail half marathon when I tore my meniscus ( Nothing to do with running but rather the result of a foolish idea to try to ride a skate board.) Since this time I have been working with Mark to find activities that challenge me and help keep me physically fit while working with my arthritis and bad knee. I will tell you that the past three years have been full of ups and downs since my injury both physically and emotionally. In addition to my knee injury and lingering arthritis, I regained a significant amount of weight that I had lost prior to my running. While outwardly my life looked great, on the inside I was battling physical pain from arthritis and emotional pain that was getting the better of me.
On a cold Saturday morning shortly after the New Year, while doing crunches on the floor of Mark’s gym, Mark turned to me and said ” What do you think about climbing a 14ner? ” I was intrigued but hesitant. I do love hiking but I knew a 14ner wouldn’t be my typical mountain stroll. I am not sure what I stammered on about for the next couple of minutes, but by the time my session was over I had agreed that a 14ner would be my goal for the summer.
At first, I did everything I was supposed to do. I researched the peaks, hiked on weekends, and I talked the talk. As winter turned to spring and the school year began to wind down, I even invited people at work to hike with me over the summer hoping to inspire someone to join me on my adventure. However, the passion wasn’t there. I wasn’t fooling myself and I wasn’t fooling. Mark. I don’t remember what we were talking about that Saturday in June, but I do remember Mark calling my bluff and asking me if I really wanted to climb a 14ner. I sheepishly told him that I did not have the deep passion for the goal that I should feel if I wanted to accomplish it. It was a relief to say it out loud. It was also the beginning of lots of self-reflection and a turning point in how I view myself and my life. It was at this moment I began lots of inner work on myself. Some of the work I have done before. Some of the work will be ongoing because life is always changing and old things reappear in different ways until we master them.
For the next few weeks I kept on hiking, and kept on working regardless of my emotions. By the end of June I looked at Mark and said ” Do you think Jen would be willing to hike a 14ner with me?” Jen is one of my work out buddies from the gym who is a very strong hiker and cyclist. She is also extremely patient. I knew and needed an experienced person with me on the trail and that it was time for me to finish what I had started back in January.
With that question I was back on track to prove to myself I am strong, both physically and emotionally. I was not in it alone, ” I get by with the help of my friends.” Mark, Jen, all my friends and family… with me it always “takes a village!” I am always grateful for the support that comes my way. It is truly a gift.
So that is part one of my story. How I made the decision to hike a 14ner. Next week I will tell you about my day on the mountain.
As always, thanks for stopping by the blog.
Until next time,