If you haven’t read our previous post, read it first for the back story.
4:00 am we were on the road to try again to hike the 14’ner Mt. Sherman. We were so excited and ready to do it! The previous hike I wrote about, there were no markers so we hiked blindly by just looking for a trail that was worn from travel. That hike didn’t turn out so well. We just found out recently we WERE on Mt. Sherman. But because the trail head was so hard to find and there were no markers, we were actually trying to go up the face of the mountain! Nobody but professionals should do that with proper gear with ropes!
This time there were some hikers getting out of their truck where we parked. We pointed to the mountain and asked if that was Mt. Sherman and which trail to start on. They had actually done the same thing as we did the week before. They went up the face of Mt. Sherman too! So they came back for round 2 as well!
I have to say Colorado hikers are so encouraging. Hikers ascending had the right of way. Hikers descending would pull over and say encouraging words as we continued on. They were shouting, “Way to go! Have an awesome hike! It’s a beautiful day!” It was so cool this time as hikers stacked rocks to show the way! We added our own rocks along the way to the markers. I love my trekking poles and knee pads I use for CrossFit. My knees never hurt going up or down! And the trekking poles give more balance!
Beautiful wildflowers are still in bloom everywhere. The columbine, our state flower, was proudly blowing in the wind along the way. Something interesting we saw: 10 feet tall old telephone poles that I guess were the first installed going across the mountain from Fairplay to Leadville years ago. I can’t even imagine how the workers were able to get the poles in that rock solid ground on the side of a steep mountain!
My backpack wasn’t so heavy starting out. But after much climbing, I stopped. While leaning on a boulder and breathing in oxygen, I told Mac I didn’t know if I was going to make it. He said we could go down if I needed to. I really did want to summit. I looked up and saw we were only halfway there. I prayed and said I want to make it.
Mac said he would carry my backpack. He would do whatever it took for me to be able to summit. He is a strong man! He reminded me to keep my eyes on his steps so I wouldn’t stumble on loose rocks when the path got tricky.
Our conversations consisted of, “This is good! This is not good. Whoa, this is scary! Wow, this is beautiful!”
I decided to not look up or look down. Looking up seemed insurmountable where we were headed. Looking down made me dizzy and want to go back where my security was.
We got to where we thought was the summit and discovered it was a “false summit!” We couldn’t believe it! We hadn’t even seen the worst and steepest part yet!
At one point on the narrow part of the saddle between two peaks, the wind was blowing it felt like 50-60 mph. We were hanging onto boulders to keep from getting blown off the mountain. At this point we were going really slow and staying low inching across.
Oh, but the view when we stood at the top….I wanted to cry happy tears! First, for making it to the summit. Second, we saw such majestic beauty surrounding us with mountains upon mountains. It was totally serene up there with the wind blowing just a soft breeze on top! There were other people already there and we all hollered in celebration we made it! I see why people love to hike mountains!
We walked around and took pictures while talking to other hikers. Soon we noticed a huge cloud hovering over the top that continued to grow darker. So everybody started their descent. Then the wind kicked in and it was fiercer than before! I was praying and trusting God would keep us safe. I would do my part to the best of my abilities to be safe.
Before descending I thought with gravity in our favor, it was going to be a piece of cake! I forgot we would be using different muscles going back down. ¾ of the way down, my body was getting weak. I had to really pay attention to not trip. I fell hard once as my foot slipped on the scree! I looked down to see where the car was. When I saw the tiny speck of our car, it seemed so far away. At this point I realized it wasn’t going to be a piece of cake just skipping down the mountain!
I quit looking at the destination and put my eyes back on what the next step was in front of me. Before I knew it we were at the bottom! Well, after a few more hours of boulder hopping, rock choosing and scree sliding!
I told Mac in the car on the way home in a soft southern tone, “That will be the first and last of my 14’ner hikes. It’s like snow skiing. I don’t ski “Black” runs anymore. Blue & Green runs for me! I like to slow down a bit and enjoy the view. I love to hike to waterfalls and camp overnight in the national forest. But hanging onto the side of a mountain cliff trying to keep from being thrown off….no more!
Mac said, “Don’t make any hasty decisions. You’re just tired right now.” Makes me think of when family ask right after you have a baby and you’re in pain, “When are you going to have another one? How many more are you going to have?” Hah!
The next morning I wrote this in my journal: I’m not telling Mac this yet but I may hike another mountain. Just not for a while. I’m smiling and shaking my head in wonder of what all we experienced in that 7-hour journey on Mt. Sherman.
All great journeys come with a cost. This one was hard work and made our bodies really sore. But after a good night’s sleep I felt exhilarated. I’m amazed remembering all we experienced.