I first private messaged David about a route up Snowmass Mountain he recently climbed that my dad, his friend, and I had planned on taking a few days later. He replied with some information, and at the end asked me if I ever wanted to join up for a hike. I expressed much interest because the remaining 14ers he had left to do were peaks I needed. Although I never got to hike a new peak that he needed, he told me that after he finished, he'd be more than happy to repeat any peak I wanted. I was so happy to find another person who would become interested in having a long-term hiking partner. Little did I know that he would become someone whose heart and friendship would last a lifetime. It was one of those situations where before I learned his name, where he was from, or even spoke to him, I knew that he would mean something to me. So, here's my story:
Our first hike was Handies Peak- we knew nothing about each other. He told me he had an attraction for me right off the bat. We were on the summit and he also told me that there was nobody else he would rather be with at that time than with me.
On the summit of Handies Peak:
Our next climb was Wetterhorn Peak the following day- it involves some scrambling near the top. He helped me through this, providing me with the belief that I could trust him as my hiking partner.
On the summit of Wetterhorn Peak:
The following weekend, we were back in Lake City and met some other 14ers.com members for Uncompahgre Peak.
A shot of us on the Nellie Creek trail:
The next day, Redcloud and Sunshine were on the adgenda. This was the first hike where we got into some more deep and meaningful conversations.
On the summit of Redcloud Peak:
School and soccer started 2 days after this so we had to take a climbing hiatus. He came to most every home soccer game I had, a few away games, and often surprised me when he came. On the few days I had off from a game or a later game, we planned to hike early so I could be back in time to play. Mt. Antero was the first of this situation:
On the summit of Mt. Antero:
A few weeks later, we climbed Pikes Peak right before another soccer game. Some of you might know that he sends out Christmas cards of him with a Santa hat on top of a mountain.
I thought it was funny he wanted me in his Christmas picture, but I went along with it:
I had a national soccer tournament down in Tempe, AZ where I planned on meeting AzScott and his girlfriend, Tanya. My dad and I were interested in bagging that state highpoint while there and clearly David was too. He flew down to watch me play soccer, visit with Scott and Tanya, and climb the highpoint.
The group on the summit of Humphrey's Peak, AZ:
I then introduced him to a longtime friend of mine, Shawn (sdkeil). We all climbed Mt. Sherman and Mt. Sheridan together.
On the summit of Mt. Sheridan:
These are only a fraction of the pictures that captured the memories I have hiking with him. I quickly learned that he was already interested in taking me on future highpoint trips and that he was very interested in having me as a loyal hiking partner.
We built a strong relationship outside of the mountains as well, where another plethora of memories arise. The thing that I found most intriguing about him was how much he paid attention to every detail of me and my life- everything from the times I worked during the day, to what type of cardio I was going to do at the gym, to the favorite but limited foods I like to eat. It truly amazed me. David attracted my attention; he caught me off guard.
During this time, I've received wonderful, countless emails and PM's. Two people who knew him sent me this:
jamienellis wrote: The only small consolation that I have right now is that David died doing something that he truly loved, with someone that he truly loved. I hope that your face was the last thing that David saw, because I know that would make him happier than anything. The two of you had such a unique, strong, special bond.
AzScott wrote: Personally, I know how much you meant to him: you and mountains were what he cared about. I'm glad he got to go out doing what he loved with the person he loved.
I know above and beyond these statements are true.
Here are a few PM's and text messages David sent to me that really meant a lot:
TalusMonkey wrote:I hope to hear your voice today.
TalusMonkey wrote:I can't think of anyone I'd rather have along than you.
TalusMonkey wrote: I'm very glad that you messaged me about my Snowmass route - otherwise we would have never met! I also hope that we will remain close friends always. I still want to hike many beautiful places with you even if I can only give you a big hug when I see you.
Recent text message: "I care a lot about you, Caroline. And I miss you when I hike without you."
These are only a few memories I posted for the time being, and I will post more as they come to me.
Now, during this process, I can't stand the thought of not hearing how excited he was for the summer climbing plans we had with several other people- I think he was most excited to take me on the Maroon Bells traverse. He would always send me a text message every morning when he woke up telling me that he slept well, hoped I did too, and to have a good workout and a good day. He would send me another one every night wishing I would have sweet dreams and goodnight. He would always be so excited to call me after work. It's the little things that mean the most. Today, and every day, I keep waiting for a text message or phone call from him. He loved to see me smile. He loved to say my name.
As I sit here receiving all of your PM's, emails, text messages, and phone calls, my heart has been shredded up and I can't stop crying. I don't think I have ever believed in God so hard in my life as I have during this entire incident. David, you are a gift in my life. Heaven has just received the greatest angel it can. I hope you are reading this and watching my emotions as I type about you. I donâ€™t know what I did to deserve such a close and wonderful person in my life. Thank you for seeing me dream, and making those come true.
Lastly, our climb of Humboldt Peak- the final summit picture of us:
I can't wait to climb again. I know that every time I reach a summit, you will climb with me, and I will be closer to you. From here on out, I will sign every summit register with 'USAKeller and TalusMonkey' because you will always be with me. I believe God brought us together to enrich each other's lives. I also believe for some heavenly reason He took you to His celestial shores. But, these circumstances won't change who I forever am in you or who you forever are in me. I miss you so much. I'll see you again someday. And we will both be happy again, together, dancing in Heaven.
Always and forever,
Here is my trip report for Humboldt Peak: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepor ... m=tripmain
Thank you to everybody who appreciated and followed our antics.