I was born in Colorado, raised in Colorado, went to college in Colorado, married in Colorado, and still live in Colorado.
I'm a Colorado native x 23 years, and this fact comes with an unspoken expectation that you love the mountains, you adore the outdoors, and REI is your favorite store.
I haven't quite yet jumped on the REI bandwagon, but I do love the mountains and adore the outdoors... But it's taken me awhile to get there.
My deep secret?
I used to
hate really dislike hiking and camping.
Camping was no fun because my parents did boring adult things together, my brothers did weird boy things together, and me... Well there's only so many books you can read.
The hiking thing... Let's just say one bad experience of getting caught in pouring rain, my mom and I getting separated from my brothers and dad, and freezing all the way back to the camp scarred me for a long time. And to be honest, I didn't really think mountains were that great until I saw and lived in other parts of the world helping me to realize that my own backyard rivaled the beauty I'd seen in countries all over the world.
Anyway, back to the present day. I now LOVE camping... Probably because the husband man is now my partner in crime, and now that I dig the mountains, I dig hiking.
As of three weeks ago, I still had not climbed a 14er (for you non-Colorado folks that's one of the 53 mountains in Colorado that are 14,000 feet or higher).
That fact alone is sort of unheard of for a Colorado native. It sometimes feels like an unspoken rule that if you are a Colorado native you needed to have done at least one 14er (if not multiple).
You could say my family is into the mountains.
(One brother- he probably hiked like this for hours.)
(Photocredit: Isaiah Branch-Boyle)
(Photocredit: Isaiah Branch-Boyle)
And clearly the parentals are not just sitting at home watching tv.
My brother has done several 14ers and even though I do hike my fair share amount now...
I decided it was high time to conquer the 14,000 foot mark.
So the husband man and I set off....
Pikes Peak was our mountain of choice, peaking at 14,114 feet. We started at the lovely hour of 6am (4:30am wake up call!), and I soon realized maybe there was a reason I had avoided this journey for so many years.
The climb was steep. And not like steep and then evening out. It was just straight up steep. It was doable and I had hiked steeper things in Guatemala, but my calves were feeling it 5 seconds into the hike.
I live at 6,500 feet on a daily basis and figured that we would be climbing slow enough that I wouldn't feel the elevation.
At one point during the hike (we were probably around 12,500 feet) I was hiking while eating a bite of granola bar and then trying to take a drink of water... And I realized I couldn't breathe.
It was then I realized that I probably should stop, eat, drink, and then start hiking again. There just wasn't enough air to do all three at once.
About four hours later we marched to the top and had a seat in the little store at the top. I did feel pretty BA sitting there among all the other people who drove or rode the train up.
I too had driven to the top of it before, also contributing to my guilt of never actually hiking it.
We spent an hour at the top eating lunch and taking obligatory pictures.
I might hike Mount Everest if it meant I got free food. Okay, probably not, but I would consider it.
The hour we spent at the top proved to be an hour too long because we started hiking down and saw this...
But half an hour later it started hailing and lightning so we had to take shelter under a couple of rocks. We emerged almost an hour later to a winter wonderland.
While we huddled in the rocks Alex remarked "This is the first time I've seen lightning go horizontal in front of my eyes at eye level."
We were up high and there was lightning all over, striking (what seemed to be) super close. We were thankful for those rocks!
This is our post-huddle-under-a-rock-for-an-hour picture. I promise I'm not as close to crying as I appear in the picture.
The last few hours down were uneventful and we made the full 13.6 mile trek in about 8 and a half hours. Had we not had the storm fiasco we would have made it in less than 8 hours but oh well.
So, now I feel like an official Coloradan. Will I do another 14er? Probably. Is it my favorite thing to hike? Not really.
But it was worth it because now my family won't disown me. But it was mostly worth it because of my free Which Wich sandwich.
So what should my next 14er be? Is there an unspoken "rite of passage" in your state or family?