A daring and daunting task: tackling a few mountains on Labor Day Weekend. It proved to be all we could handle.
While most people spent their Labor Day Weekend relaxing and enjoying some time off, (and there’s nothing wrong with that) a buddy and I decided to tackle a few mountains. Call us crazy but this is how we like to unwind.
There’s just something about nature that calls to us… if we have the courage to answer that call, we are greatly rewarded with seeing it’s beauty and learning from the lessons it teaches.
2:45 AM – Monday September 4, 2017 (Labor Day)
Logan’s alarm sounds. I roll over and am immediately greeted by the almost a fool moon in the cold, clear, Colorado sky. This morning we would set out on our fourth and fifth 14-ers of the weekend.
Yes. You read that correctly. The previous day we rested after a night summit (Mt. Sherman) on Friday and a double summit (Grays Peak and Torreys Peak) on Saturday. We left Grays and Torreys with the mindset of resting on Sunday and Monday, forgoing our original plan of five (possibly six) 14-ers on the holiday weekend.
Twelve plus miles of hiking and several thousand feet of elevation gain left us fatigued (mentally and physically), dehydrated, and with a few blisters on our feet. Three 14-ers in less than 24 hours was a feat that we were quite proud of.
We packed up and headed back to Grand Junction, approximately a three hour drive. We got back and completely crashed after refueling and rehydrating. Sunday morning was easy.
We slept in and managed to make it to the 11:00 AM service at church. Mentally, I was prepared for an easy Sunday. Go to church, grab some groceries, meal prep, get some writing done and possibly go on a much more local, casual hike.
Logan had other ideas….
We both were feeling surprisingly good, knees weren’t achy and ankles seemed to be holding up. We had a few blisters on our feet but nothing unbearable. I was totally down with a local hike or something to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.
I was not expected Logan to suggest two more 14-ers. He suggested that we go down to the San Juan mountain range and summit Redcloud Peak and Sunshine Peak, a twelve mile round trip hike with some serious elevation gain.
I’d be lying if I said I was totally against this idea. Truth is, I was actually for it but the three hour car ride and the distance of the hike had me a bit hesitant. I knew how I was feeling toward the end of Grays and Torreys and Redcloud and Sunshine would be even further.
Our stuff was already packed. All we had to do was get in the car and go. And, that’s what we did.
We arrived at the trail head just before the sunset. We got our sleeping arrangements set up and our bags ready for tomorrow’s journey.
We gather our sleeping backs and pack up the car. I broke out a new pair of Darn Tough Socks (will be reviewing these later) and put them on, laced up my boots, and I was ready to go. Or at least, I looked the part.
I was a bit worried how I would hold up today. It was sure to be a long day. We needed to start early enough to get up to both summits and down before the afternoon storms hit.
We got on the trail a little after 3:00 AM. The first part of the trail was through some dark, dense forrest. I couldn’t tell you what the trail looked like beyond that because, well…
we didn’t make it that far.
About two tenth’s of a mile into the trail, among the pitch black forrest, we stopped to break. My breathing had greatly increased, as I was going to keep up with Logan at all cost until we made it out of the forest portion of the trail.
We stopped and asked each other how we were feeling? We both agreed that we feel good now but that we had an awfully long day ahead of us, if we planned to keep going.
Although we could handle much more of the trail we swallowed our pride and concluded that we should just call this one here. We were about to bite off more than we could chew.
Calling it Early
Many reasons we decided to call it after driving all that way, camping in the car overnight, and waking up early. Fatigue was certainly a large reason for it but it was far from the only reason.
I talk about seeing the big picture a lot. This should help to explain what I mean.
There’s little doubt in my mind that we could accomplish both those summits on Labor Day, but at what cost? What would that mean for the future?
Would we burn ourselves out and the excitement of summiting a 14-er be gone?
Would we be too focused on accomplishing the goal that we wouldn’t stop to appreciate the process?
Do we regret going all that way to just turn around and come back?
If we hadn’t gone, and put ourselves in that position, we’d still be bombarded about giving it a shot. I’ve said this before but you never know what will happen if you just show up. We showed up and got our answer.
The mountains and nature must be respected. I think subconsciously we both knew that these summit attempts would be in vain. Our mindsets were not in the proper place. Every summit has a lesson to teach. We were not prepared to receive this lesson and the price may have proved to be more than we were willing to pay.
A Proper Sacrifice
We don’t always find the answers we expect but we always find the ones we need. It is in those moments where we define ourselves. Yes, pushing through a few aches and pains is quite necessary at times; I mean you are talking to Mr. Relentless, after all.
But, sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice doesn’t help anybody. Sacrificing beyond the point of benefit or return is a fools errand. Today, sacrifice is glorified. It’s as though the more sacrifice you’ve done the better the reward. That’s not necessarily the case. The sacrifice has to have purpose and meaning.
If I’m #Relentless about anything, it’s about not sacrificing for the sake of sacrifice.
“When everything has a purpose,
everything will have a result.”
– Greg Plitt
Sacrifices are meant to be met with great intent and purpose.
The sacrifice we would’ve had to make in order to make it to those summits wouldn’t have been worth it. It would have been several hours of hiking and thinking “why are we doing this?” We wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the journey like it’s meant to be enjoyed.
Remember, it’s the journey you’ll remember the most. When we find our way back to the San Juan mountain range to tackle these two summits (and we will find our way back), it’ll be even more memorable.
Many times in our lives we can find our focus on what’s left to be done. We often forget the accomplishments of our pasts, that have led us to where we find ourselves this day.
It would be very easy to look back on this weekend and say that we didn’t quite cut it. We didn’t have what it took to get the job done. We only summited three 14-ers and not five.
But, how ludicrous does that sound? “Only three 14-ers…”
Some people don’t summit three 14-ers their entire lives. We managed to do it in less than a twenty-four hour period.
Say what you want about the success/failure of our weekend but I assure you that Logan and I look at it as nothing but success. The fact that we were able to swallow our pride and call it is a HUGE success for me.
And, may it learn you a little something about me, too. I don’t just throw caution to the wind. My moves are strategic and thought out. The risks I take are calculated and I assure you, the worse case scenario is never far from my mind.
“Rugged and hostile environments teach us.
And they teach us by leveraging real fear.”
– Michael Gervais
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