A summer above the clouds

At the beginning of 2015 I promised myself that for the first time in several years I was going to put ME first instead of putting a man first.  It had been so long since I’d felt truly happy for an extended period of time.  And while I still have moments of crushing sadness after the end of a long term and very special relationship, I feel I have really embraced who I am, what makes me happy and I have made advances in my personal and professional life. Independence can be difficult, but it’s also a huge blessing.  Of course I would love to share this life with someone, but for now, I can embrace who I am and love myself first.

Anyway, When spring and summer rolled around I knew I was going to do what I moved to Colorado to do six years ago…  Explore this beautiful state & spend time in the mountains.  I started out exploring when I moved here but getting up to the mountains and hiking really took a back seat to other things in life and I now know that I should never give up what matters to me for anything or anyone.  Last summer I think I hiked once.  ONCE.  I think I was on the borderline of depression for a while.  I slept in a lot, lounged around…  Working nights was hard, but not that hard, and I used working nights as an excuse to spend many days inside on the couch watching Netflix.  That is NOT me. I felt sad and unhealthy.  Netflix is fun, but I like to save it for the cold snowy winter days instead.

This summer was phenomenal.  I left my comfort zone.  I got outside.  I spent a ton of time in the mountains.  I did something I never thought I could do….  climbed 8 14er’s to bring my total overall 14er count to 9.

Often times while beginning my ascent of a 14er I question why in the world I chose to climb a mountain that day. It’s typically cold, often windy, I’m usually sleep deprived after waking up around 3am to drive to the mountains and start hiking before the chance of storms roll in and more often than not I’m hungry and/or slightly dehydrated.  Yet the goal of reaching the summit becomes more attainable and more exciting with each sore step.  When I stand on top of that mountain, high above all of Colorado, I feel happy. For a moment the world stands still and it’s just me, the view and the overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

We climbed Quandary Peak in July, making it my first 14er in many years.  I went with several people from the hiking group I am in.

quandary quandarypeakfog quandarypeak3The next 14er I climbed was Gray’s Peak, my first solo hike in Colorado without my dog.  I didn’t have Zainey yet and Copper would never be able to climb one.  The trail was busy, I made friends up there, and I never felt alone.

GraysPeakSolo GraysPeakOn August 8th a group of us hiked four 14ers in one day – the DeCaliBron loop.  We did the loop backwards and started with Mt. Bross, then climbed Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Cameron and finally Mt. Democrat.  I got Zainey a few days prior and it was her first hike with me and she climbed all four 14ers.

mtbrossMt. Bross.  I had previously attempted Mt. Bross a few years before and actually had a mini panic attack due to my intense fear of heights and instead of making the summit I hiked back down.  Accomplishing the summit of Bross was a really big deal to me and I’m thankful for the friends I had with me that day that helped me overcome my fear of heights and make it up the mountain.  Bross will always have a special place in my 14er summit memories.

mtlincolnMt. Lincoln was second.  I really liked the climb up to Lincoln and the rocky summit.

mtcameronIt was so very cold and windy on Mt. Cameron.  Zainey isn’t in this picture because she was so cold she curled up into a tiny ball on the summit and didn’t want to move!  We literally snapped a pic and ran down to the trail to Democrat to attempt to escape the wind.

mtdemocratMt. Democrat was next.  The climb up to Democrat was long and I took many breaks.  Zainey was starteing to get tired and the elevation was wearing on us. Thankfully the wind died down, the sun came out and at the summit we got to enjoy nice weather, beautiful views & my summit sign was a hit.

ClimbingdecalibronHere you can see some of the trail on the DeCaliBron loop.

My next two 14er attempts were busts.  I tried Huron and Evans.  Both days were ruined by either freezing winds, solid rain showers or lightning on the drive in.

Next, I climbed Torrey’s Peak on my own one Sunday afternoon with Zainey. The weather was great and there was no chance of storms that afternoon.  We completed the long climb in 5.5 hours and I locked down 14er #8.

This first picture below shows the mountain we were about to climb.  The one on the left is Gray’s Peak which I climbed solo in July.  The mountain on the right is Torrey’s, which we were about to head up.  Zainey was ready to go with her new Ruffwear backpack.  She was carrying her own water.

zaineytorreys torreyspeakzaineyme torreyspeakTheclimbtorreyspeakYou can see the trail we were going to take up to the summit of the mountain.

And finally, this past Monday I climbed Mt. Sherman with my friend Shaun.  Mt. Sherman was a wonderful September climb, the weather was perfect and we had the idea of bringing a backpacking stove, propane and made breakfast on the summit.  It was such a fun day and will go down as my most fun hike this summer. Many thanks to Shaun for some of the photos that captured our climb.

SubaruMy Subaru did great driving up the road.  We parked above 12,000 feet.

SnowSummit

I found some snow on the summit and attempted to make a snow angel but the snow was too packed in.  Instead, I just laid there and posed for pictures.StoveSummit

Shaun brought up eggs, chorizo, avocado, cheese, tortillas cookies, orange juice…. how awesome is this? Full breakfast burritos 14,000 feet in the air.  Sherman

The summit of Mt. Sherman is up there on the right.  This is a picture of the ridge we climbed.  Doesn’t look too steep from this angle – but it was up on the final push to that summit. MeShaun MeSherman

How beautiful is this view? Mine An old mine on the trail.

What a glorious summer.  I have one more mountain to climb before the snow rolls in to hit my 10th 14er.  I would really like to get it next week so we’ll see if the mountain snow can hold off for just a few more days…

If it can’t that’s okay.  I learned so much this summer & have found a new passion.  What a solid summer.  I am so thankful I was able to focus on ME and accomplish things I never thought I would be able to.  What a summer of growth!

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