Disclaimer - This was my first 14er that i climbed over a year ago, I have climbed many now. It was a little hard to write about something that was so long ago but i felt compelled to the grammar and perspective a little awkward, and i was also writing to my family and friends who are uneducated in the field so as far as the informational stuff, that goes out to them, but i hope you enjoy it!
This was my first 14er… and I hated it. It was awful and painful and I was sucking air for hours on end. I also felt saddened that I was holding the group of some of my best friends behind. I had to borrow things from more experienced people for I was unprepared. Well we hit the trail “early” at 6 am (Later in my career I would find myself leaving around 3:30 preferably and 4 am at the latest), but I was full of energy because I did not know the troubles that I was about to experience. The trail was nice and easy for the most part, a nice solid trail switch backing through the San Isabel forest. The trail was relatively flat, and full of beautiful scenery and full of wild life. But 30 minutes or so in to the hike, I soon realized that I had left my main medication for my asthma at my house 4 hours away. I realized that I had forgotten it in the worst way as well, because I was in need of it. But I trudged on with legs burning and heart beating faster than I have ever felt before. Luckily my good friend Jake was staying back, he said he was struggling as well (I later realized that that was a lie and he was just being a good friend, but it was appreciated). After a lot of pain and breaks, me and Jake made it out of the forest, above timberline, and into a beautiful pasture, seeing familiar faces from our group all perched relaxed upon the rocks, we decided to break as well, but little did I know that the rest of the group had already been waiting for 15 minutes. After a short break we moved on. This section of trail was pleasant and full of views I had never seen before. The massive peak was looming in the distance, it seemed leagues away, but was no more than 2 miles as the crow flies. But sadly we did not go as the crow flies, with the switch backs soon to come our path would soon relate to a bat's flight pattern. When we made it to the shoulder of the peak maybe 45 minutes later, the path started its usual winding pattern and came to a very impressive structure in my opinion, a stair made of massive rock, it boggled my mind how the trail makers designed and built this, I can only imagine the physical toll this was. But I digress, after several minutes on the stairs we had gained the summit ridge and found myself starring at the summit from no more than half a mile away. I had never climbed a 14er, let alone be above 12 thousand feet before, and was unaware of the nature of the trail to come. Within minutes the trail turned to a field of rocks with no designated trails. Cairns marked the way to some extent but I couldn’t imagine that they helped that much with the way that the “path” was. Maybe 100 feet vertically below the summit, I found myself looking face to face with the most exposed section of earth I had ever encountered (Just wait till I tell the 14ers that I have climbed since then, and i hope to get the ultimate thrill on Capitol and Little Bear). Fright came over me, but I pressed on, within 5 minutes of this terrifying moment, I found myself looking up at Rob, my Youth Minister, cheering me on, for the rest of the group beat me and Jake up the mountain by untold amounts of time. After a couple 5 second breaks to get oxygen into my lungs, I pressed on and placed my foot on top of the 53rd tallest point in the great state of Colorado. The joy was amazing, but the pain was worse. I sat down and closed my eyes for several minutes just so i could finally put what I was feeling into my thoughts. I opened at finally took some time to look around. This is the part where I feel bad for all of those who haven’t stood on top of one of Colorado Centennial Peaks (That is, Colorado’s one hundred highest peaks), and the reason, the view took my breath away. It was magical, surreal, and something I thought I would have never seen in my life. But I was there, in the moment. Clouds covering the “three apostles,” (Which includes North Apostle, Ice mountain and West Apostle, Three of Colorado’s 13ers, but West Apostle is not one of the Centennials), which were, and still are some of the most amazing mountains I have cast my eyes on. This was the most amazing physical thing I had ever done, the prerequisite for me re falling in love with this state.
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Good for you...a Moment you will never forget!! Let that accomplishment carry you ....Life if full of taking 1 step at a time!! I hope you will continue with your Journey of climbing!!
Hold your head up high, keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky, live like you're not afraid of dying, don't be scared just enjoy the ride!
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Very nice. Yeah, I remember my 1st 14er last year was Bierstadt and I remember complaining about the thin air and the steep hills and then finally made the summit that made it so worthwhile. Since then my obsession has grown immensely (and thankfully to a certain extent my stamina) and looking back bierstadt seems somewhat significantly easier than some of the other 14ers I've done. Anyway, glad to see the mountain bug has bitten you as well and can say that huron's definitely an awesome 14er (one of my top 3 favorites right as of right now). Happy hiking
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