This year was supposed to be my year to cross a major item off of my bucket list. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned. At the top of my bucket list is bagging a 14er. I have wanted to hike to 14,000 feet in elevation (the highest you can in the contiguous United States) since before I can remember. It has just always been at the top of my list.
At the first of August I had the opportunity to camp and hike in Colorado with a Hike Like A Woman retreat. The last day of the retreat was an optional 14er hike. I was super stoked, I was finally going to get to see the views from the top of the world.
When you live at 600 feet in elevation, you simply don’t just drive to Colorado and hike to 14,000 feet. You have to train. The air is much thinner and it does not have as much oxygen. So even if you are physically fit, if you do not acclimated to the air, you will find it hard to breath and perform at your usual level.
I trained for my bucket list hike by running and riding my bike. This is how I increased my lung capacity to counter the lack of oxygen. And in the months before my hike as I ran and rode my bike around my neighborhood I looked forward to summiting a 14er.
I was also nervous that I wasn’t training enough – that I would get to Colorado and fail to make the climb. I didn’t want to have to come home with my head held down.
The month before, I set out to hike part of the Presidential Travers in New Hampshire, one of the most difficult hikes in the United States. Unfortunately, I only made it up half way up Mount Washington and bailed on the hike. That trip made me even more nervous about failing at the 14er hike.
The week before, my friends in Colorado were telling us about all the rain they’d been having. For some reason, this didn’t bother me.
But my first day in Colorado in the afternoon, storms moved in. This is typical for summers in Colorado, and you have to be off the summit by noon. Being at high altitude is extremely dangerous during lightning and storms.
Since the storms rolled in that afternoon, I again didn’t think anything about it. But the rain stayed. And my friends who live in Colorado and know the weather patterns and the area became hesitant about the hike. Discussions of a “Plan B” came up.
I dug my heals in and set my jaw. I wasn’t ready to give up. This literally is at the top of my bucket list – No. 1. But I also know and trust their expertise.
I checked the weather one more time – an 80 percent chance of storms and showers, with snow showers at high elevation. Ugh! This was my opportunity, and the weather ruined it.
My first thoughts were how to get back to Colorado (at least a 15-hour drive), but I was out of vacation time. I’d have to wait for next year.
But on the bright side, I came home saying my chance to bag a 14er failed because of bad weather and not because I failed physically.
I now have a whole year to train and I know I’ll rock it next year when I go back.
Driving home I took the long way through the mountains. I stopped at Independence Pass and did a short day hike. The storms were rolling in, and I didn’t have much time before the weather chased me off the mountain.
By the time I drove to the valley, the clouds covered the mountains where I had just hiked. I couldn’t even see them.
Safety is not something to compromise to just cross a bucket list item off. And despite not hiking to 14,000 feet, I had one the best times on a trip.