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Adventure of the Week: To go or not to go?

Former arts and entertainment reporter Audrey Dwyer writes about hiking up to the summit of Mount Massive last Sunday.
Courtesy Photo

— Maybe we were stupid. Perhaps brave. Some, may call it crazy.

Somewhere around 12,466 feet, the clouds looked upset, sending keen hikers an ominous warning.

Should we go on or turn back?

On Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. my fellow “14er-fiend,” Ashley Stewart, and I set out on the Colorado/Mount Massive trail. Sunlight peeking through the trees, welcomed us back to 14er season.

Mount Massive awaited our arrival — our first summit of the season.

Little did we know — getting closer and closer to tree line — we were walking straight into a thunderstorm as sprinkles of rain turned into a downpour. Dismayed hikers we passed had the look of defeat. Our spirits dipped, as we too started to accept that today, may not end with a summit.

Studying the threatening clouds and the 14,000-foot, 3-mile-long ridge, we saw blue skies emerging as the wind gusts turned toward the opposite direction of our destination.

Our decision?

To press on.

Two groups of hikers in front of us also decided to continue. And soon, blue skies appeared in the wake of the storm.

Gaining elevation, we reached the 13,900-foot saddle between “South Massive” and the summit ridge where we gained the false summit and looked up to find our final ascent.

At 9:15 a.m., we stood on top of the second highest peak in Colorado at 14,421 feet.

Round trip, Mount Massive was 13.6 miles with a 4,500-foot elevation gain, with views that leave you breathless — literally.

But, at 14,421 feet, I realized something. In that moment on top of Mount Massive, this was happiness in its purest form.

There’s nothing quite like high-Alpine climbing. You feel alive, on top of the world and as if there is no other worry but to reach the summit.

Our mantra that day was to keep going. No matter how exhausted, tired or worn down we were. On top of that peak, the reality was clear: if you just keep going, you will get through it, one way or another.

Whether or not we were a little crazy to continue on, we were on the trail, dark and early, driving from Steamboat to Leadville at 2:30 a.m. Sometimes you may not summit, other times you will. But Ashley and I continued on, even though we didn’t quite know what the outcome of our day would bring.

In life or on the trail, you will get to where you are meant to be. It just takes a little patience, bravery and maybe a bit of delirious enthusiasm to get you there.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1


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