“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” ~ Steven Wright
I write about mountains quite a bit, so I figured I should actually experience a real one…first hand. I spent the last few months trying to decide which of Colorado’s 14,000 foot mountain peaks to attempt on my vacation. After much indecision, I decided on Mt. Quandary. (Yes, that’s a real mountain, and yes, it seemed like the obvious choice.) I set out this week to see Colorado and to experience life from a little higher up. Monday, my first day, went something like this:
5:41am Wake up
6:18 am Drive to Quandary mountain. Stop at country store to eat and verify directions.
6:35 am See sign for Quandary Mountain, pull off and park. Doesn’t look like the pictures I have loaded in my phone. They said there would be lots of cars. No one but me.
6:40 am Continue driving back and forth on the dirt road. I decide I’m in the right place, throw my back-pack on, and start following the trail.
7:00 am Sun is up, and the trail is too…up and up. What was I thinking?
7:25 am It’s been 45 minutes and still no one around. Find an old cabin that looks like someone’s been there within the week. Take pictures and keep hiking.
7:35 am Almost an hour and still no one in sight. I guess only real mountaineers climb on Mondays.
7:36 am Call 911 to make sure they’re okay. Nice lady on the phone asks where I am. I explain I’m on a trail headed up to Quandary Peak. She says “Don’t move. I’m gonna have someone from Search and Rescue call you.
7:38 am Some guy named Don from S&R calls and asks me what my intentions were. “To reach Quandary Peak.” He says to look around and tell him what I see. I explained that I just passed an old mine shaft, and I see rocks and the tops of trees. “Uh huh. What else?” Well, there’s a trail sign. It reads Wheeler Trail/ Miners Road. He says, “I know exactly where you are. You’re on the wrong mountain.”
(On a brighter side, I was in fact on ‘a’ mountain. However, I was still on the wrong mountain.) Ever feel that way? Wrong turn and it’s all uphill? Now I had to hike all the way back down and try to find the correct mountain.
It was kinda late now to start my attempt to reach Quandary Peak before noon, with thunderstorms in the forecast. I decided to try anyway. After asking for directions, two miles down the road, I found the sign clearly reading “Mt. Quandary Trailhead.” Plenty of cars from people already headed to the peak. Here we go again. Up, up and more ups. Alot happened from that point. I did make it to the peak that day. 14,250 ft. I got back to my car exhausted around 3:00pm. I met lots of cool people on the side of that mountain, and it did storm on the way back down.
Here’s a few points I learned along the way.
1. Climb only the mountains you were meant to climb.
2. Some people are placed around you just to help you to make it.
3. One man, seeing me tired and slowing said, “It’s good to stop and take breaks. Think of setting plateaus as goals and concentrate on reaching one plateau at a time.” (Thank you, Yoda.)
4. Having someone look you in the eyes and say, “You can do it, makes you feel like you really can do it.”
5. Some people will pass you, and others you will pass. It’s all fine. (Except when a little 11 year old girl passes you. Then, “be ye angry and sin not.”)
6. If someone has to send out “Search and Rescue”, you just might be lost.
7. If the path you’re on is taking you either nowhere or the wrong “somewhere”, it’s time to turn around and get back on track.
8. People only visit the mountain peaks. No one lives there.
9. None of our experiences are the same. Some people have higher highs and lower lows. Kathryn Bates made it to 14,000 ft Pikes Peak on a mule and wrote the words to America the Beautiful. I made it to the top of Mt Quandary on tired feet and got a headache.
10. Psalm 121 (GNV) says, ” I look to the mountains from where my help comes from. My Help comes from the Lord.” Well, you may be actually looking for your mountain, lost on your mountain or wandering aimlessly on a back road somewhere. Search and Rescue knows exactly where you are. He WILL get you there. Turn around if you need to. But fix your eyes on Jesus. My help…and your help… comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth, which includes all your mountains, valleys and everything in between.
Note to self: Check Craigslist for a GPS, a flare gun, and a mule.
There’s No Place Like Grace,