Our other big hiking escapade during our trip gave us that peacefulness in bucketfuls. If you also allow for copious amounts of swearing and me predicting that at any moment I was going to plunge to my death. It was a peaceful near death experience.
When we woke up Tuesday morning, Michael and I decided we were going to spend the day at Steamboat Lake State Park. It's about a twenty minute drive outside Steamboat, and we figured we'd pass the time fishing and hiking the nearby trails.
As we drove closer to the Park, Michael pointed out a mountain peak that he thought would be fun to climb. I laughed and said there was no way we were climbing that. The peak of the mountain was completely bare of any vegetation, and looked to be either barren earth or lots of rock. That's not even taking into account the fact that it was a mountain peak. And I'm afraid of heights.
When we got to the Visitor's Center at the Park, we talked to a Ranger about the different trails and such in the area. What do you think he recommended? Ah, yes. The mountain peak. Hahn's Peak, we were told. And he threw in casually that he had taken his seventy year old mother hiking there once. Was I to be out-hiked by a seventy year old woman? Apparently not.
So we set out to climb Hahn's Peak. It was another steep climb, so we took many, many breaks. Luckily the scenery along the way was amazing so I just used that as an excuse to stop.
When we neared the top of the peak, we ran out of pretty trees and wildflowers and were presented with the "fun" part of the climb. Turns out, what looked like barren nothingness is in fact slate. Tiny little rocks that I now had to climb on. With the wind howling at my back, threatening to push me off the edge of the now non-existent trails.
I will admit, I wanted to turn around when I saw all that slate. I figured we had climbed higher than I probably had ever been before regardless, and my death just didn't seem like a price I wanted to pay. But then I remembered the Ranger's mother, and unless he forgot to mention that she died on that mountain, I figured I would survive. Most likely. And if not? Well, at least I had my pride.
Since you are reading this, I am pleased to announce that I didn't die climbing that peak. Or climbing back down. Because honestly? That's when I was about 90% sure I was never going to see another day. I just couldn't fathom climbing back down on slate that moved under your feet with every step. With that wind I mentioned, blowing at my back. Quite strongly, I might add. I am not even exaggerating that I thought I might slip right off the side of that mountain.
The view from the peak was so amazing though. Beyond amazing. For once, I don't even have the words to describe it. I don't believe in God, but in those moments, I felt closer to something. More at peace with the world than I have ever been. From that high in the sky, it felt like you could literally touch the clouds they were so close. So I guess the terror of the climb was worth it.
When I made it down the mountain alive, I was pretty proud of myself. And more than a little cocky. I hadn't died. That deserved like, a medal or something. Overcoming my fears and doing something remarkable should mean something.
What I got was 33 cent wings and an early bedtime. But hey, what else are honeymoons for?
Stay tuned for Delayed Honeymoon, Part 3!