We woke up rested in the Yurt on our first morning. The clouds were clearing up and we had a 5 hour hike ahead of us. I couldn't even see the summit of our climb from the yurt, and I knew we had a ways to go.
I have never just taken off from the middle of nowhere without a summit in sight, no trail, just to accomplish getting to the top. But there was something freeing and exciting...new and exhilarating about waking up, stretching, and heading off into nothing.
We passed the Bessies, broke fresh tracks and tried not to feel guilty trampling the beautiful Summer Colorado wildflowers.
Little by little we hiked farther away from our Yurt, and the only thing familiar. I kept turning around to make sure it was still there, not knowing that in a couple hours, I wouldn't even be able to see our Yurt anymore.
Some parts of the hike were harder than others. I know that around that 3 hour mark when I couldn't see the Yurt, my body grew tired and stiff with the sudden startling discovery of our isolation. It was quickly replaced with a sense of calm in knowing that we were okay. And even though this was something new and scary, it is always centering and worthy to step outside your comfort zone sometimes. Adaptability, strength, courage, excitement, experience. We could all use a little more in our lives.
And even here, there were things that reminded me of home. Each little home-shaped rock I tripped over was a note from the plains. It felt right to see something familiar in a sea of unfamiliarity.
My little mountain goat, taking a cold snow break.
This is a picture of me trying really hard to breathe. This little Oklahoma girl has lived at 1,000 feet above sea level her whole life, and almost 14,000 feet after hours of hiking makes for some flared nostrils and forced smiles.
The closer we got to the top, the rockier the climb became. We had to hike with our feet sideways to not slip down the mountain. And at every "summit" we thought we'd reached, there was another one right behind it.
(click to see full size)
And when we finally reached the top, and could rest our tired bones and appreciate the view....
All I could see was Mt. Elbert.
That damn mountain was once again reminding me that no matter how many mountains I climbed, how many goals I reached -it was still there. 1,200 feet higher than the spot I sat on, that took me hours to reach.
I started to realize that this climbing mountains thing was a lot like an endless rat race we all play in life. There is always something bigger, better, someone prettier, more talented.
And sometimes, enough if enough. You just need to accomplish that one big goal to be satisfied. To truly stop when you reach it, and break through a barrier that would have have held you back otherwise.
In February I found this mountain. And when I found it I showed Michael a picture and I said:
"I am going to climb to the top of this mountain. And after I do it, I will be able to do anything."
In my head I was doing everything. Having a baby, starting my own business, being at peace with myself and finally just feeling complete. Like I had accomplished the one thing I needed to do in life to prove to myself that I was going to be okay, from this point on.
And there was Elbert. Tired, flared nostrils, sore muscles, with a thunderstorm starting to roll in...I stared at that mountain. In two days I would climb it. And whether or not I finished was not up for debate, anymore.
It took us almost 2 hours to get back down to the reservoir. Hunter drank from it and I debated whether or not I would make it back up the hill to the Yurt. We were hurting, big time. And in my head I was secretly scared of the way my body felt after that day. I thought of Elbert again, before we hiked back to our Yurt right before the storm reached us.
Above treeline, high in the mountains, you don't look up at storms. You're in them. And in ten minutes you don't see anything, anymore. And you better hope for some shelter from the lighting and ice cold wind up there.
We built a fire that night. Made soup, and just....hurt.
Hunter passed out and slept all evening and all through the night. That was a lot of hiking for an old lab his age.
All evening while the storm beat on the outside of our little Yurt, we played board games, ate smores, and talked. I taught Michael how to win Monopoly, and in turn he beat me terribly after I professed that even though I know the rules to the dirty game, I refused to step on anyone on my way to the top, and would always lose at dog-eat-dog type board games.
We slept in a fort that night. We threw quilts over the top of our bunk bed and closed in our little bed, warm and cozy all night long. We slept like babies.
In the morning we woke up to the sunshine drying the last bits of the night's storm. I could wake up to this every morning.
It was our last few hours in the Yurt, and our last few hours away from every one and thing we knew. Soon we would drive to town to do a load of laundry at the laundry mat and pay way too much for their back-of-the-store showers.
Tonight we'd camp in the San Isabel Forest. And tomorrow morning, we'd find ourselves at the Mt. Elbert Trailhead.
I wished for one more night in the Yurt.
next: Part Three: Setting up Primitive Camp