Since Steve and my Colorado vacation was last minute, we didn’t have the training time that we had other summers to prepare us for hiking 14,000 foot peaks. We didn’t have any real conditioning preparation time on this short notice. We thought we would at least try one and turn back if we couldn’t make it.
We chose Mt. Elbert, even though it is Colorado’s highest mountain, since it was only an hour from our cabin, a class 1 (on a scale of 1-4 with 1 being the easiest) climb, and a reasonable round trip distance—9.5 miles. It was also the first 14er hike I ever did 8 years ago. We thought we had good potential to summit.
We started our hike at 5:00 a.m. in the dark using headlamps. I love starting in the dark and then seeing the forest begin to be light as the sun rises.
The first 1.5 miles was pretty tame, but then it took off from there. We quickly felt our lack of training! There were some parts still in the tree line that were quite steep—zapping our strength. Switchbacks definitely make it easier.
We summited about 10 a.m., ate lunch there, took photos, and enjoyed the vast beauty of God’s creation that only the top of a 14er provides in its views. Then we started our 4.5 hour trek back down. Most of the other hikers on the mountain hiked faster than we did both up and down, but they were a lot younger too!
This hike, the Lord gave us two different great, extended conversations about spiritual things with other hikers as we went down.
Steve and I were both exhausted when we still had two miles of the downhill to go, but one step at a time, we made it back to the trailhead. We were blessed to have cloud cover for those last two miles and to get back to our vehicle before the storm hit. As we got in the van, it began to rain.
We are grateful to the Lord for the health that allows us to hike a 14er, especially considering Steve’s coronary artery disease, angina, and stents last year. He didn’t have any hint of angina during our hikes indicating the diet is working well. We don’t take for granted our hiking together, knowing that there will come a time when we can no longer do it, and that each hike might be our last.
Trusting in Jesus,
“His foundation is in the holy mountains” (Psalm 87:1).