Thrilled and with my blood pumping, I continue my ascent to the summit of Mt. Lincoln (14,286 ft) in Colorado . The sun bakes the back of my neck, and my legs feel as though they are about to collapse. Lactic acid and fatigue building in my muscles, I stop hiking and peer down the incredible mountainside to estimate my height and see the awesome view. While looking, my glance stops on my car down in the parking lot. I can’t believe my eyes because my full-size Toyota truck looks like a tiny hot wheels car, and the trailhead is barely visible! Feeling amazed from the view and recovered from the break, I redirect my gaze back to the mountain and start to climb again. The trail grows steep, and my enthusiasm skyrockets as the summit comes into sight. Half an hour later, my boot steps onto the ten-person-wide summit, and I take in Colorado’s picturesque landscape, wearing a smile on my face. This is why I go to Colorado every year: to participate in scenic adventures that amaze the mind and strengthen one physically and mentally.
The trip my family and I took to Colorado that summer contained many unbelievable events—experiences that changed my perspective and that taught me character. My favorite activities were fishing for trout in Ruedi Reservoir (we caught over 100 fish), running through the mountain trails in the White River National Forest, hanging out in the log cabin, talking to the locals, and climbing 14,000 feet up Mt. Lincoln. In particular, my trip up the mountain was the best exploit, an incident that could never be traded for the lessons it taught me.
In order to scale Mt. Lincoln from trailhead to summit, I had to plan well in advance. My preparation called for rigorous exercise during the months prior, so my body would have the physical stamina to reach the top. My preparation involved a good night’s rest and adequate packing the night before. My preparation called for a strong mental fortitude and perseverance. Then the big day came.
Even with sufficient preparation, to reach the summit I had to stay alert, watch my feet, and stay hydrated. My mind had to focus on the current surroundings and especially on my footing. Cooperation, too, was essential to our group’s success. Some instances felt tough; others felt spectacular; and by reflecting on the climb, I have realized that my attitude literally made the difference. When every member of the group participated optimistically, we made the most progress in the least amount of time. These times were the most enjoyable and invigorating—times that I remember best and from which I learned the most. A seven-hour hike with plenty of time to think, this climb caused me to ponder, and I have conjectured many parallels between this hike and my regular, daily life.
The climb itself may be likened to any task one undertakes, a school exam for example. To successfully take an examination requires study and preparation, a willing mind, and mental determination. At different times during the preparatory work and the actual test come stress, joy, ease, and difficulty—all aspects prevalent on my hike. Obtaining an occupation, improving a relationship, completing a project, or working through financial dilemmas are other examples of tasks that call for the characteristics I learned on the mountain. But no matter what the future circumstance, and whether it portrays opposition or calls for strengths, I feel that the traits learned on Mt. Lincoln will help me reach the summit of success.
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