After just a little over a year here in Colorado Springs, I finally summited Pike’s Peak today. Relationally (which is the factor that can redeem just about anything), it was a great day. I loved hanging out with Carrie and Ruth. On a practical level, however, it was perhaps the most miserable hiking experience I’ve ever had. And this from a girl who, just last year, was chased off of a summit by a lightning storm.
There was certainly a chill in the air when we hit the trail today. But it’s September in Colorado, so it wasn’t really a shocker. On the way up, a man coming back down told us (rather emphatically) that we would encounter high winds on the ridge. Ok mister, thanks for the nice warning. Later, we were told by another hiker that he had yet to encounter anyone who had not turned back early. These people, we are thinking, must just be wimps.
So, as you can clearly see, it wasn’t like we could have seen it coming or anything.
Holy friggin’ crap! We spent almost the entire hike (most of it is above timberline) shivering against below-freezing wind-chills, compliments of a 50+ mph wind (can we say up to 70 mph gusts?). It literally took me off my feet at several points. Perhaps those turner-backers were not wimps, after all. Perhaps they were wise, and we were stubborn…err…stupid? (No…I’m going to stick with wimps- it makes our stupidity sound nobler somehow.) Either way, we spent at least five of our eight hours freezing our little (insert favorite plural term for anterior region) off. To make it worse, the hoped-for warming lodge at the top is closed for the season, as is the road, crushing any hope we had of getting out of the wind or calling for a ride down. I was shivering uncontrollably as I ate my semi-frozen sandwich, and I wanted to cry.
As we turned back toward the bottom and back into the wind, and as the joints in my legs transitioned (courtesy of the cold) from painful to excruciating (post coming about incredible lesson learned through leg pain), I was reminded of the choices we have in those situations. I could not choose to be out of the wind. I could not choose to be warm, or to call a ride. Being ticked off about those things is pretty futile. So I began to sing, to joke with my comrades, and to give myself the pep talks I often use- little mantras that keep me focused through challenges.
When singing a song about a Savior who is “firm through the fiercest…storm”, and when laughing about how high winds make stinky farts much less conspicuous, things start looking up. No less cold. Still being blown over by winds. Knees still screaming at me. Snot still pouring out of my frozen nose. But really, looking up.
Thing is, life is going to stick us on frigid mountains once in a while. Might as well see how far we can lean into the wind without falling, and laugh when it clears the smells away.