Sunday, August 02, 2015

Climbing Mount Bierstadt In Colorado

Well, last week was a banner week to say the least. I met the President of the United States, I had an opportunity to share Nuru with more than seven hundred top-tier software developers, and then, Saturday morning, Jamie and I woke up at 5AM and began preparations to leave our hotel to journey with my old roommate and incredible friend, Derek Roberts, on an epic adventure. We set off with Derek at 6AM for Mount Bierstadt, and arrived around 730AM at the parking lot. Jamie and I were supposed to have a seventeen mile run that day, but I think three hours of hiking upward at altitude (made the summit by 1030AM) were probably a pretty decent substitute workout.
Mount Bierstadt was named for the artist Albert Beirstadt who was attributed with the first ascent in the 1860s. Bierstadt was part of the Hudson River School of artists (founded by Thomas Cole—one of my favorite American artists), and painted hundreds of scenes of the American West.

As we hiked from the parking lot onward and upward it was not uncommon to see people stopping to rest (we did it a few times ourselves), and we also saw some people get discouraged along the way and decide that they would stop and turn back, or just stay in one place and rest and enjoy the sun, but we kept moving, albeit sometimes more slowly than others.

We also were drinking a lot of water. I believe we went through about 1.5 liters on the ascent, and we probably could have used more. The temperature peaked at 68 degrees back at our car, but it felt much warmer. We had definitely exerted ourselves heavily on this trek. By the time evening rolled around we were all three more than ready for sleep. I think we were each in bed by 10PM which may have been our earliest sleeping time during our visit to Colorado.

Along the hike I had a few thoughts stick out to me. That while the lessons came from the ascent, I feel like these can hold true for other areas of life as well.

The adventure is always better with friends. As we made our way up the slope, each of us offered encouragement and shared our food with one another, and we were able to celebrate together at the summit too!

When the going gets tough, persevere. Every time we encountered a steep portion of the trail, we would notice several groups convening to decide if they were going to keep going or not. It’s easy to let doubts creep in during those times, and almost any reason to turn around feels justifiable, but you really need to keep track of your internal compass and intention during those times.  Don’t let your self-talk derail your focus. Don’t quit.

Prepare ahead of time.  Our culture values spontaneity, but without proper prior planning we could have run out of water really quickly (and we did run low on the descent).  The weather was incredibly cold as we started, but the temperature warmed quickly (especially as our blood was pumping) as we journeyed upward. Be prepared. Think thru details ahead of time. Good counsel for almost every scenario. Also, in spite of the ascent being considered an “easier” seven mile round trip, I don’t think it would have been wise to attempt if we were not already in decent cardiovascular conditions.

Enjoy the journey. It is really easy to get so focused on the goal (being focused is a good thing) that you miss out on the view along the way. Every time we paused to drink some water, we were intentional about looking around us. The view was ever changing. As we increased altitude, we saw summits that were previously hidden. We discovered valleys that were spread for miles, and we enjoyed a sky that was steadily changing as the day progressed. Part of the journey in any arena is taking the time to enjoy the beauty all around you.

It’s worth it to keep going. Similar to my comment on perseverance, when we arrived at the summit, it was a massive celebration. We ate some snacks that tasted even better with the knowledge that we worked through all of the mental and physical challenges along the way. Those were some of the best snacks and bars I think we have ever had. We shared laughs, and even celebrated the moment with one of Jamie’s #starjumps. The view was incredible, and we had the privilege of knowing that we were among a select few who have made it far enough to enjoy that 14,060 ft view.

Stay focused after you attain your goal. Climbing down from the summit presented a different array of challenges. We were already tired, and gravity tempted us to take faster steps than our tired body could handle. If we were careless, we slipped, we stumbled, and we fell. In the beginning we thought the goal was the summit, after the summit, we had a new goal was to arrive safely back to our car.

Encourage others on the path. As we climbed and as we descended, I couldn’t help myself from saying words of encouragement as I saw the struggle on the faces of strangers. On the ascent I spoke as a fellow-sojourner. On the descent I shared as a successful rookie explorer. No matter where we are on the journey we can take time to encourage others and spur them onward.

Now, I don’t think I’m going to become a “summit bagger” or anything like that in the near future. Who knows, I may never climb one of the 50+ “14ers” ever again. But I hope I have the discipline to apply the lessons of this journey to my life daily. And regardless the locale, I look forward to the next adventure, the next journey, and the next goal as Jamie and I continue to explore this world and seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our Creator in sweet community.

No comments: