On a breezy summer night last July, I shouted to my family, “Hurry up or we’re never going to reach the top; only fourteen thousand more feet to go!” We had embarked on our lengthy hike up a mountain. The adventure started at about one thirty in the morning. We walked like zombies as we awoke from a short, but fulfilling sleep and headed to the car. Our group of four drove thirty miles to the Longs Peak Trailhead in Estes Park, Colorado.
At two thirty, we recorded our names on a sign up list at the trailhead. Then, we headed up the pathway to see if we could achieve our goal. Each pace was a step in the right direction. Not many people passed us, but that’s to be expected because not a lot of people are out on a hike in the middle of the night, either. The first part of the trail, called the straits, wasn’t bad at all. However, we didn’t know what was to come.
By four thirty, my family had reached the top of the tree line. We were making good time. The most amazing part of the trip for me was watching the sunrise at five thirty in the morning at twelve thousand feet. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. The elevation was starting to take a toll on some people. Since we were climbing higher, there were also more rocks that you had to step over.
We arrived at the boulder field around seven thirty and started making our way up the massive rocks. From here on out, there was not a designated path, so you just had to find the best rocks to jump onto. It took us an hour to get to the next big part to the trail, called the keyhole. The view was amazing, but it was frightening to look down an incredibly steep mountain. We stared in awe at the astonishing views for about half of an hour.
Because of our fear of heights, my mother and I decided to turn around at this point. As my father and brother continued ascending to the summit, my mom and I descended the boulders and began walking down the rocky trail. It was fascinating to be able to observe all the natural surroundings in such a deserted place. The climb down took about three hours. In the meantime, there were storm clouds overhead and I was hoping to make it off the mountain before the lightning began.
At the beginning of this trip, I wasn’t looking forward to climbing Longs Peak. I thought it would be just another boring hike. In fact, the first couple hours were quite boring, but once we got above the tree line, the views were spectacular. My favorite part was sunrise on the mountain. I’d never seen anything like it before. Although I didn’t climb all the way to the summit, I was happy with how far I went. I know I could’ve made it to the top but my fear of heights kept me from going farther. I thought to myself, “a majority of the people that come to Colorado never even get this far.”
I will always remember this hike. It’s one of those experiences you never forget because you spend so much time preparing for it, both physically and mentally. When you actually achieve your goal, it’s very satisfying. The lesson learned from this trip was that anyone can reach a goal if they really try.
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