Peak(s):  Pt. 12,085 - 12,085 feet
Date Posted:  08/11/2013
Date Climbed:   08/04/2013
Author:  AndYouSeeMe

 Life IS good, damnit!  

“Sometimes it seems like such a hard life
But there’s good times around the bend
The rollercoaster’s gotta roll to the bottom
If you want to climb to the top again”

(from Good Times Around The Bend by The String Cheese Incident)

Peak: Unnamed, unranked Pt. 12,085
Mileage: less than 1 mile
Elevation gain: 55 feet

Turquoise Lake

This trip report is more for some personal growth and perspective than any beta or epicness, but I thought I would post it here anyway. Having waffled back and forth whether to actually write it for a week now, a rough day yesterday prompted me to wake up this morning and just do it.

As some of you may know back on June 18th I shattered by calcaneus(heel) bone into over 40 pieces which required an extensive surgery on July 5th. This injury resulted in a hospital stay of almost a week and many more weeks of being absolutely immobile in a hospital bed at home. This happened when I decked from 20 feet up on a 5.11b crack in Eldorado Canyon. Thought I could land it. Oh wait, that’s not even close to what happened though much cooler sounding. In reality I was doing some bouldering on the Auraria campus climbing wall and jumped, not fell, from a mere 5 feet. To top it off the floor is extremely padded and I had jumped from higher before. With a bum left knee I always favor my right leg a little and in this case landed in the perfect spot to put me in my current predicament.

My heel now

Headed up the pass

I had been feeling pretty down in the months before the accident, and was so happy that it seemed things were taking a turn for the better. It was a combination of talking to someone, re-working a med plan, and in my opinion the biggest factor was making it a priority to get into the mountains as much as possible. The hills are the place where I meditate and clear my head, something I had not made a big enough priority this past winter. With some lofty goals for the summer climbing season and many plans for great outings with great friends I was looking forward to this summer more than any other since moving to Colorado in 2005. Needless to say, that all came crashing down with me to a heap on the floor of the climbing wall.

Wildflowers and Mt Massive

If you were to hit the fast-forward button from the accident until last weekend you would see a whole lot of wallowing in my misfortune, falling deeper and deeper into a funk, weeks upon weeks of Price is Right and every other junk TV show out there, failing all of my summer classes, and just general suck. Friends and family were reaching out to me but it seemed I would rather just continue being a one-man pity party. I am so thankful for my wonderful wife, Lauren, for always being there for me no matter what and having the biggest heart in the entire world; I am not sure what I would do without her. A summer trip back home to Michigan had to be cancelled but I was fortunate to have my sister, dad, and mom come out for three separate weeks to help us out. Try as they all might, it was still a personal problem I was dealing with, and I was not always the best patient.

Wildflowers and Turquoise Lake

A friend told me to charge a dollar to each person who said ‘It could be worse’ or ‘The mountain’s will always be there’ and then when this was all sorted out I could just retire. Yeah, it definitely could be worse, a lot worse, and I feel fortunate that I will eventually heal. Yeah, the mountains will always be there, but I won’t! My funk was in charge and not letting me see how many good things were in my life and that just kept perpetuating itself over and over and over and over and over………..

Last weekend was our 6th anniversary, I was finally able to handle a long car ride, and I had just bought a knee-scooter from Craigslist so we decided to try to have a picnic up high somewhere. Helmut suggested Hagerman Pass on the Continental Divide and it ended up fitting the bill perfectly, thanks buddy! As my anniversary gift, Lauren agreed to tackle the first 4wd road in her life. The drive to Leadville and then Turquoise Lake went well and we started up the pass. Our only plan was to make it up to the top and have a picnic and enjoy the views. She did a great job keeping the car on the road and her hobbled passenger fairly comfortable despite all the jostling around.

More flowers

When we reached the top of the pass and parked I couldn’t help but notice an old roadbed leading up to some radio towers and other such stuff. It was marked closed to what seemed like every type of wheeled vehicle, but nowhere did I see any mention of knee-scooter. After convincing Lauren I was not kidding and that I wanted to at least try to make it a little ways up the path I started out. The goal wasn’t to get to the top of anything, just to clear the view a bit so we could look at the Mt. Massive massif clearly.

The scooter has what I would call large rollerblade wheels on it and unfortunately even a fairly small rock or groove in the pavement will bring me to a complete stop. That said, something came over me and I just kept on going, slow but unsteady over the incredibly rocky trail. Lauren asked many times if I had had enough and reminded me that I would need to return the way I came but I kept at it. After about 40 minutes and not even half of a mile I called it quits when the view of Mt. Massive was satisfactory and it was apparent I was not going to be able to make it all the way to the summit of unnamed Pt. 12,085. We sat there for quite some time as the weather was perfect and a long rest for me was in order anyway.

Making my way, albeit slowly

Other side of Hagerman Pass

Mt. Massive massif

Plugging along

During that slow trip to my highpoint of the day, 12,050 feet, I did some thinking in between grunts and righting the scooter. My life is full of wonderful people, things, and opportunities and I was letting this injury and depression take over and forgetting that. I vowed to have that day be the turning point. Also at the forefront of my mind were all of those who have lost their lives in the mountains recently and in the past. Each and every one of them would gladly trade their fate for mine. They will never get to head out into the Earthly hills again while this is only a hiccup in what I pray is a long life full of doing so.

Appreciating life

Flowers and Massive

Life IS good!

On the descent, trying not to go over the handlebars

What followed was a tough descent that rivaled the Lake Como Rd except my Jaws sections were simply golf ball sized rocks and mud. We surprised some people who were taking pictures near the pass sign who looked at me like I was crazy and had them take our picture as well. After descending from the pass about a half mile we found a perfect picnic spot and I rolled over to it while Lauren worked to get everything set up. It was perfect except for the mosquitos and we enjoyed a nice lunch in a beautiful place, which was the main goal for the day in the first place.

Mario mushroom

Picnic spot

On the way home we stopped at Sapphire Point on Swan Mountain Road overlooking the Dillon reservoir, the place we were married 6 years ago that day. Bark beetles have taken some of the beauty away from the area temporarily but luckily we have the rest of our lives to see the beauty come back. I can still remember that day like it was yesterday and look forward to where else this adventure called life and marriage takes us.

Has it already been 6 years? Can't wait for the next 60!

Once back in my cell/apartment in lovely Englewood, blech, things were not as bright and optimistic as on top of the pass. While I have not done the best at having that moment during my ‘hike’ truly be the turning point, it has definitely given me perspective. There are OK days and still some very, very low ones. The reason I wrote this report is to remind myself of that feeling and those thoughts I had that day.

Hopefully in just under a month I will be able to start putting a little bit of weight on my heel and then hopefully what will follow is a ton of walking and easy hiking on the way to a complete recovery. School starts up again in a few weeks and despite knowing how much of a trial getting to and from the light rail station will be, I am looking forward to having things I need to do and more people to interact with. I know I am not the first person to have a major injury sideline their plans nor will I be the last but this has been my story.

Hoping for a full recovery so Lauren isn't forced to carry me!

Thank you so much for reading if you have and if not that is fine too. This is something I needed to get out and hopefully this is another turning point in my life.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Turn the page
08/11/2013 17:42
and write more. Keep at it man, and best of luck to you and your recovery. Time away from the mountains due to injury or being stuck in a swamp, sucks. But knowing there's a return on the way is and keeping that in mind is important.
Thanks for posting! That's good therapy.

EDIT: haha! I like the picture you added at the end!


08/11/2013 19:28
Thanks for sharing this and for your honesty- I can relate to everything! Although we may not always be able to get to those heights we want to, the mountains are always healing- it's true about it being difficult to recreate that in the city, though! It's cool you have a great lady by your side! Best wishes for continued healing! Onward and soon upward!!

Dave B

08/11/2013 22:16
Is an awesome trip report. Way to get after it. The next time I see someone on campus with the knee-cart, I'm going to think of how lame they are for not taking it up a mountain!


Way to make it work!
08/11/2013 23:41
Great trip report! Check out the Mt of the Holy Cross overlook on shrine pass. It is wheel chair accessible and will make what you did look like a cake walk. Also consider Mt Falcon and ”The Brother” in Evergreen. If you wrote more trip reports about this, I would read them.


08/12/2013 01:03
sorry for your pain, but i got a chuckle out of the video. thought the wheels were going to snap off.


Tough as Nails!
08/12/2013 02:25
Does your Doc know that you're back in the mountains again already?!? If not, we will all promise we won't tell -- provided, of course, that Lauren will join us in this medical conspiracy!

With this kind of dedication and stamina, you will certainly be ready to head back up the Fourteeners during the 2014 climbing season. In shape and tough as nails -- and a few screws too!

Keep Truckin'! I am (and apparently the rest of us are too) very definitely inspired!!

And, of course, what a way to celebrate your HAPPY 6TH!!!!!!


Love it!
08/12/2013 02:51
So, this is why we can never play Mario Kart... You're back out in the hills all sneaky.It's good to see you back in action, Aaron, with a delightful report.
Happy Anniversary, you two! Note that the sky is brighter in the photo taken this year than six years ago. Good omen.


08/12/2013 03:18
I'm just about to get married, and my fiancee had to use one of those knee-carts in the spring after foot surgery. So I can relate to a couple of aspects here. Happy anniversary! And, yes, you hate to hear it, but you'll be back out there. Just take care of that foot for now.


08/12/2013 04:07
Andweseeyou making a great comeback! Good for you and your resolve. Glad you could go high again, and with great company. Look forward to your future successes, but man- strong work!!


Step 1
08/12/2013 15:25
Thanks for writing up a report that can help all of us with our own challenges/obstacles. Congrats on the anniversary and the scoot over the pass. Keep at it and I'll be in touch.


I just wanna know...
08/12/2013 16:05
... how it is that your wife looks EXACTLY the same age in both pictures? Doesn't she age like the rest of us?

Great report, Aaron. You are now my hero. Seriously.


08/12/2013 16:46
Aaron, this is incredible, thanks for posting! I sure wasn't expecting a TR from ”andyouseeme” this morning but I'm sure glad it was here. Congrats on the anniversary! I got to hang with Lauren a little at RRE and I know you are in good hands buddy. And way to get out there and enjoy the mountains! You'll be out there flying up those hills again in no time. And lastly you guys still need to come over and hang sometime. Whenever you are up for it just let me know. Take care buddy - and I hope to see you at Phish?!?!


08/12/2013 18:24
just awesome!

I Man

keep your head up...
08/12/2013 20:20
You and Lauren are the best.Good thing our great love comes to town in 2 weeks. That will sure put a smile on your face. See you soon!

PS as soon as you're ready we got some adventurin' to do.


So you're sayin'
08/12/2013 22:44
... that for a very short time window this fall/winter, we'll be the same hiking speed?!?! Let's plan some 13ers for then!

Keep looking up, as this too, shall pass. (Says the little girl who shattered her arm skiing at the start of ski season one year and was depressed until she could get back on the slopes again)


It's really nice...
08/12/2013 23:18
... to see you back in the mountains. I am sure many of us can identify with the feeling of missing weeks / months in action after the silliest of slips. Way to try to see the bright side. I think that's the first step out of the funk.


08/13/2013 00:02
Hate to break it to ya, but I totally crushed your time up this guy. In your face!

Hope to see you out there later this year, Aaron!

(P.S. you should keep the beard. And the chick. She seems nice. I approve. You're welcome)


08/13/2013 03:31
stoked for you man! Even the strongest self pity, dont fret. We all pulling for you and by pulling for you I mean beating our asses up the mountain after way too much to drink the night before.


Totally Awesome!
08/13/2013 21:24
Way to get back out there ... and with such an appreciative attitude. Sometimes, life's setbacks are what end up bringing us full circle and more thankful for all that we have, all that we are, and all that we can be. Thanks so much for posting. Happy Anniversary and Happy Trails!


08/17/2013 03:19
I heard about your injury and I am glad your back at it. To a fast recovery and plenty of future 13ers!


Thank you all so much!
08/21/2013 19:27
Not much more to be said than a heartfelt thank you for all your positive words everyone, it really means a lot.

Looking forward to hiking with you all again ASAP!

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