A few years ago, I climbed a nearby mountain with an elevation of over 14k feet. It was a challenge, but a very enjoyable one. The day started out at 3:30 in the morning, with the climb beginning at 6am. I was excited, ready, and full of energy.
The beginning of the climb was not what I had expected. It was very steep, with loose rocks that made the climb rather difficult. The shoes I chose to wear didn’t help matters, as they were typical running shoes, instead of hiking boots.
I pulled myself along, grabbing onto anything within arms reach, and finally made it through that first rough patch.
After that, although it was still a steady incline, the trail evened out and became easier. The view was stunning, and became even more beautiful as the elevation grew higher. It’s amazing to look out and be able to see for miles.
My stops were few and far between though, because the climb had to be completed before the daily afternoon storm rolled in. I kept a steady pace, exerting myself when needed and enjoying the rare declines that were scattered along the way.
By noon, the climb was only half way through. I was tired, but determined to make it to the top. After eating a small lunch, I continued on. Only 6 more miles to go to reach the summit. As the climb got higher, it also got colder and the air became thinner.
For the next 5 miles, the climb wasn’t too terribly difficult, minus the increasing lack of oxygen. Then came the last mile. I could see the finish line from where I stood. It was just up the hill. A very deceiving hill, I soon learned.
With minimal oxygen and a very steep incline, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. Every two or three steps, I had to stop to catch my breath. It was beyond exhausting and I was pushing my body to its limit. Once you’ve gotten that far though, there’s no turning back. You have to go all the way.
Slowly the summit got closer, inch by inch. People were on the top shouting words of encouragement to those of us below. Some of them even came down to help the folks who were struggling the most, and it truly was a beautiful sight. However at that moment, I just had one thing in mind. Get to the top.
It was mind over matter. Determination and perseverance were key. It was the last mile and it was extremely difficult, but knowing that the top of the mountain was just a little further ahead, encouraged me to go on.
Finally after an hour of climbing that last mile, sometimes on my knees, I made it! Taking a deep breath, I turned around and looked down at what I had just climbed. It was amazing! I could see forever. It was beautiful, but even more exciting was the point that I had reached the top.
Climbing a 14er is more than a hike. It provides a valuable lesson.
Throughout life, we encounter many mountains. We begin to climb, but as we get closer to the top the climb gets more difficult. This is where many people give up. The finish line is right there. It’s within their grasp. They only have to go a little bit further, push a little harder, and they’ll make it.
Sometimes that last mile seems impossible, but it is during that last mile where you have to push the hardest. When you feel tired and don’t think that you can go on any longer, just remember that you’re almost there. The summit is right in front of you.
Conquer it. Then enjoy the view!