Oh man. Generally, I want to keep my writing as positive as possible…but sometimes I get so low that I don’t even know how to keep my eyes open. Sometimes a wave of debilitating sadness crashes over me like a rogue wave. I think it’s important to be honest about the lows. Climbing Lindsey was a real struggle. Some things were really bothering me & some drunk guy tried to get in my car with me, it all just threw me off. I drove past places that triggered memories. I don’t know…seemed like everything was good in Chicago Basin…and then I lost the positive energy. It took me two tries to climb Lindsey. It’s 22.25miles round trip. The first day I got about 1mile from the summit, clouds were rolling in, and I had no drive to push through anything. I wasn’t physically tired, my gas tank was full, but my head was spinning. I turned around and walked all the way back to my car. Accomplishment for the day: 20 miles to nowhere. I was ready to just call it all quits that night, just be done with climbing peaks for a while, be done with everything for a while, maybe go to the cabin and just get off the grid for a bit, disappear.
I started to question myself, question my motives. Had I been travelling down a path of self-deception? Was this all about the mountains and love and magic and wonder…or was I just an asshole living out of my car, bagging summits, in some stupid egotistical attempt to do something beyond the limits of what was expected of me…like it would make my existence actually mean something? But then I called my mom and talked…ya know, just talked through things. I got my shit together and made the summit of Lindsey the next day. I blasted tunes the whole way, put myself in the zone, zoned out, pushed through, and found myself happy again. Happy that I still had the ability to do what I set out to do. And then, the sun began to set…the clouds turned pink, the sky was this crazy gradation of a million different tints of blue and purple, there was a lightness in the air, and the road I walked felt like home again. Suddenly, I remembered exactly what this was all about.
After Lindsey, I thought I had recharged…thought I had this all dialed in. But when I got to the Elks, I lost it again. Cried like a big fat baby. Cried so hard, I couldn’t even breathe. It was just a culmination of everything. I try to brush things off, try to keep my chin up. I am FAR from perfect, but I try really hard…all the time…and it seems like somehow it always falls apart in the shittiest way possible. That said, I do have to recognize that this is a theme in my life…and maybe it isn’t the whole world that is pitted against me…it’s just me against me. Gotta stop screwing myself over. Maybe I just cling too tightly to things, maybe I need to let some shit go, expect nothing, get back to the root of it all: do things purely for the sake of doing them. I’ve been so rigid and shy for so long…I feel like I don’t even know how to be real with people anymore. I’m so sensitive to the littlest things. I really gotta toughen up. Really gotta lighten up!
Anyway, I didn’t climb anything in the Elks. I just missed Lake City and the San Juans. Those mountains feel like home, like the definition of happiness. The weather was hit and miss while I was there, but I got a few good days in the mountains. I played a pretty fair amount of basketball and I felt really good. My shot is finally coming back, and may even be showing signs of getting stronger…it’s all a meditation, ya know? I can just focus on my follow through, focus on each dribble, be in the moment, my mind is nowhere but right there.
At a certain point after being back in Lake City, it felt like I was just stalling…I felt like things were alright again…and so, I headed to Crestone Peak. I’ve been fighting some pretty extreme fatigue and I keep getting really light headed…I don’t know what it is…probably some combo of depression/lack of sleep/poor diet? Despite all that, I was motivated! But then I slept in (dammit)! Weather was supposed to roll in around 4pm. This trip was gonna be 20 miles and 6,850 ft in elevation gain, without an early start I didn’t know if I could pull it off in one go. I decided to throw my overnight pack together and just get up there, get as far as the weather would let me get for the day, and sleep by the lakes if I had to, then get an early start the next day! I cranked the tunes and got to walking.
When I got to the junction for the Peak, all I wanted to do was take a nap. The sun felt so good. I tossed my pack down and spread out, face down, like a dead person. This older foreign guy thought I WAS dead, haha. I had passed him earlier, when he saw me again he yelled “HEY!” I sat up and waved, said “I’m ok.” He came over to where I was and started talking to me. I couldn’t tell exactly where was from, but English was clearly his second language. He started telling me about the meaning of life, about how important it was to live a life in the mountains, to move freely in high places. It seemed kinda magic and divine. He also bragged that he had the blood pressure of a young boy! He told me about how amazed his doctor was by his health. He said he owed it all to the mountains! “All my life, I been mountaineer!”
He asked me what my plans were, where I was headed. I told him I was going up the Peak. He decided he ought to let me know all about Class 3 hiking. He told me that I would be climbing with my arms and legs and maybe even my teeth. He told me how he had climbed 34 fourteeners. He got out a map and showed me where I would be going. I told him that I had been there before, that I had done Humboldt and the Needle last year. He raised his eyebrows and asked me how many peaks I had climbed. “51” I said. “Like 5 and 1, 51!?” he asked. “Yeah.” He didn’t go on about the daunting details of Class 3 hiking anymore.
Some other older guys came up and joined us. They asked if they could crash the spot and use it as their campsite, and I said “Sure!” We made small talk…talked about mountains we had climbed, all while I eyeballed the clouds surrounding the area. I checked my phone and the weather looked like it was going to hold. It was definitely kinda late to start the climb over the pass, go down the pass, then go up the gully to Crestone’s summit, come back down, go back over the pass, and come back to the campsite……….but I just had this feeling that it was all gonna be okay. And as much as all the guys were really nice, I kinda just wanted to be alone.
I ditched my heavy pack and put the essentials in my day pack. Off I went. The climb up the gully to the summit was pretty straightforward and fun. I hung out with the handsome views, snuck some pictures, and headed back down. The sun was setting just as I got back to the summit of Broken Hand Pass. The timing worked out just right! It took me a minute to find my pack in the dark…but once I did all the guys told me they were glad I was safe and they congratulated me on making the summit. I thanked them and wished them luck on their adventures for the next day.
I hightailed it back to my car…or I tried at least. My left leg was really bugging me and my back shot sharp pains so deep they felt like they penetrated my soul. It’s like being stabbed with a knife sometimes. But it goes away quicker if I don’t think about it too much. You can think your way through a lot of physical pain, you’d be surprised…or maybe you already know that? I need to get better at thinking through the mental pains though. Maybe that’s why I hike? Maybe to get through tough physical stuff you have to use your mind. And to get through the mental stuff you have to use your body. I don’t know. But maybe?
Anyway, slowly but surely I made my way to my car. When I got there I remembered that there was a meteor shower. It was really something to see! I tried to sleep, eventually…but no luck. I drove back to Westcliff and pulled off the road somewhere…slept for a couple hours, and then drove up to the Elks.
And here I am again. Back at the Elks. And here is the thing…I am SO FORTUNATE to be able to do all this. It isn’t always super easy, but I have to remind myself that this is AMAZING! I get to see so much beauty, I get to be so free, I get to feel so strong, I get to triumph, I get to see my dreams through! That’s not anything to be afraid of, or dread, or blow off just because things outside of hiking get hard sometimes. Life is life…it’s both amazing and incredibly difficult…there are gains and losses…time ticks away regardless of circumstance…and so, I just have to keep positive…keep my chin up and make the most of it all. Why cry? I have so much to smile about!!!!!!!!
Family: I LOVE YOU!!!!! Thanks for being there for me, always! ❤