If You Never Did, You Should
August 20, 2012
"If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good." ~Dr. Seuss
I've heard that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Hmmm. What could that mean? When I found out that there was a local 14er (a 14er is a mountain exceeding 14,000 feet) staring down at our vacation rental in the Colorado Rockies, I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone (I have a healthy fear of heights) and try to climb that mountain. It even had a literary name ... Mt. Sneffels, named after a mountain featured in the Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. That sealed the deal, I had to climb it! I'm not sure how climbing a 14er got to be on my bucket list, but there it was. I really didn't think that I could make it, but I wanted to give it a try.
There is no way for a flatlander like me to train for the lack of air and the terrain on Mt. Sneffels, so I just went for it. What was I thinking? I'm still not sure. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. Ever! To achieve a 14er, the rewards are great. At 14,000 feet, the views are breathtaking. The air is also really thin, which was fortunate for me and my fear of heights. The thin air forced me to just focus on breathing and taking one step at a time, and not to focus on the fact that I was climbing a steep mountain with loose rocks that came tumbling down on me with every step. Trying to tackle that altitude too fast can lead to altitude sickness. I suppose it's a good thing that I'm slow. I watched one young man zoom to the top at amazing speed only to find him very ill about halfway back down with altitude sickness. He had to be driven down off the mountain in a jeep.
The climb was grueling. There were times along the way when I wondered if I'd be able to make it, but I never gave up. Any time that I was struggling, there seemed to be someone that came along on their way back down that would offer words of encouragement. At one point, a priest from France happened by and talked to me about achieving things that I didn't think were possible and pushing myself beyond what I was comfortable with. I called him an angel. He gave me a boost that I needed on a difficult part of the trail. I did it! I climbed a 14er. It was an amazing feeling, and for me, a significant accomplishment. I've changed over the last few years. I used to like to play it safe and stay in my comfort zone. Now, I look for opportunities to push myself beyond what I think I can do. Why not? Life is short and I want to enjoy it while I'm able. I can say that I'm up for the challenge of getting out and enjoying life.
Are you ready for a challenge? Check out the book Colorado Above the Treeline: Scenic Drives, 4WD Adventures, and Classic Hikes. Go ahead, get out of your comfort zone. The views are amazing. If you never did, you should!