The mountains here in Colorado are near and dear to my heart, and the 14ers hold a special place in particular. The first time I attempted to summit a 14er, I failed miserably.
I was 19 years old, had never climbed a respectable mountain, and I basically thought I could just amble up to the top while singing skip-to-my-lou, not a care in the world. Mount Harvard thought otherwise, and after my poorly acclimated lungs begged for mercy, my pounding headache started to get the best of me and the climb seemed to get vertical, I knew I had to stop. It was disheartening.
I was beat.
The mountains have a way of working their way into your veins, however, and I felt like the challenge to reach the top wasn’t even so much climbing the physical mountain, but perhaps something more internal. I felt as though it was standing up against the things which seek to conquer me in life, planting my flag and showing them that they’re not going to.
This is my little brother and I the year after, taken from the summit of Mount Harvard.
I’m not sure who was happier – me, Jesse, or our dog Harry, but I’ll never forget that summit moment. We were on top of the world. We found the little gray canister hidden among the Boulders, scrawled our signatures onto the rolled up paper, then sat down and ate our mushed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like we were kings. It was beautiful.
I’m no conqueror of mountains, with around ten fourteeners under my belt at this point, however the feeling of being at the top, of not giving in, and a little taste of being king is something that perhaps stirs in all of us – and keeps me coming back.