Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mt. Holy Cross - A Blessing

Mt. Holy Cross, elevation 14,005
September 2, 2012
11.5 miles, 8:39

Mt. of the Holy Cross is one of the lowest 14ers in Colorado. But what it lacks in height, it makes up for in beauty.

This mountain took my breath away (literally at times). At 11.5 miles, it's a long day's journey.

Feeling stressed for starting late the day before and missing a summit because I was nervous about the weather, we got up super early for our 1:30 drive from Leadville and hit the trail just after 6 a.m.

Starting at about 10,000 feet, you get to hike for a few miles and climb a few thousand feet on some really nice trails. Then this beauty takes you for a loop, you go down a few thousand feet back below tree line and get to hike it all again!

Martin presents Mt. of the Holy Cross.

Here I am going up just to go down again!

Mt. of the Holy Cross.

I felt pretty strong this day. But the hardest part for me was the last two miles. The last mile is a lot of scree. It took me 90 minutes to make it up!

This is the start of the hard part.

Oh boy! This was hard to climb. Like doing one-legged squats for 90 minutes with a sock in your mouth.

I have to say it was worth it all -- getting stuck in a rock, scraping my knee and ripping my tights -- that was all soon forgotten when I reached the summit.

Suann Lundsberg

Suann Lundsberg

Four hours and 39 minutes later, I was sitting on top of Mt. of the Holy Cross. It was stunning. The weather was amazing. I wanted to sit up there forever.

Martin and I ran into a couple who did a midnight start. Their plan was to summit before sunrise and watch the sunrise, but they got sidetracked with a nap and missed the sunrise. This is definitely something we are putting on our list.

We saw this little girl on our descent down. She let me watch her for quite some time.
I must have snapped 100 pictures of her.

On our flight out, I was reading The Last Breath: A Memoir of Going to Extremes by Francis Slakey. He discussed a life changing moment for him. He was held at gunpoint in Indonesia on his way to a climb. Like always, he had managed to escape what could have been a deadly situation. Not long after he returned from his climb, he picked up a newspaper in Bali. What he read next forever changed him. A group of American teachers were ambushed and gunned down. He realized it could have been him.

Descending off of Holy Cross, Martin and I have this conversation that a huge majority of our nation will never see this. They will never smell that river we crossed at the base of Holy Cross. They will never pause for 5 minutes to watch a deer eat in the woods. They will never look at the funky red mushrooms growing on the forest floor.

But yet, we live in a country where you CAN climb up a mountain and run in the woods without fear of being ambushed or gunned down.

“If you get to the end of your life and you have regrets that you could have done better, then you blew it,”  Francis Slakey.

Don't take life for granted. Go explore. Be epic.

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