When we went to Colorado, Daniel my boyfriend, had rented this big ol’ Escalade and we were taking a day with our friends, Becky and Brian, to go through Rocky Mountain National Park. We are driving through, taking in the sites and thinking where should we go next. Should we hike a trail and what trail should we hike? We didn’t know where we were. We were just winging it. So, I look on the map and I see Gem Lake and I had heard of that place. It was really close to where we were so we went and we got to the parking lot. We stopped and decided that since it was only 1.7 miles this is pretty simple. Let’s just go ahead and bring our climbing gear just in case we find a place to climb.
We put all this equipment on our shoulders and we are like, “Okay, let’s go! It’s not that far.” Little did we know that the 1.7 miles was literally straight up this crazy mountain. It took us about four hours to get to the top. The sun had already set by the time we got back down. But we just kept walking and saying, “Oh, this is going to be worth it, I bet it is going to be beautiful.” So, we are climbing, climbing, climbing, and each little vantage point we would stop and take in the sights. We just kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is the most beautiful setting I have ever seen in my whole life. How can it ever get any better?”
We kept going up, up, up further and further and it was probably the hardest hike I had ever done. It was insane, it took us forever. Climbing, Climbing and we keep asking all these people who are coming down the mountain, how much further? Are we almost there? “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, just keep on going you are almost there. The lake is right at the top of the mountain.”
We are like, “Okay, we are almost there,” so we keep on going and we get to the very top where there was this little opening. We look and there is this measly little puddle. We are like, “What?” I mean I didn’t have the energy to express any emotion. We sat down and I am like, “Crap, I drug us all the way up this stupid mountain and now there is this puddle we get to look at.” We are sitting there drinking water and our friend, Brian finds this little rough ridge that continues to go straight up. He walks over there and I am not paying him any mind and the next thing we know he is, “Hey guys! Look up here!” and he is at this very top point on this little overlook that overlooks the puddle.
We are like, “Oh, cool so let’s go up there.” We dump our stuff down and we are free climbing up this little ridge. It was kind of scary. We get up there and we look and we are “Wow, this is so beautiful!” There were two mountains that were meeting and our little puddle which was actually kind of pretty from the top. And then there were these snowcapped mountains in the background because it is October. It is absolutely beautiful. And we are hanging out for a second and I am taking a lot of pictures with my friend Becky. I remember I am recording this video and I am circling around and I see these tiny little people, Daniel and Brian continuing to climb this tiny little point of the mountain. I thought, “What are they doing?” I ask Becky, “Do you want to go up there with me?” And she says, “No way, you guys are crazy!”
So, I start up by myself. We are climbing boulders up and down, up and down trying to get to the very top and I am yelling for Daniel, “Daniel, where are you?” My legs are shaking with the climb because it is so narrow and one wrong move and there I go. I mean we are at ten maybe eleven thousand feet up in the air.
Daniel couldn’t hear me, He was oblivious that I was climbing up behind him until I am right next to him. I stood up and my legs are wobbling the whole time and I am trying to breathe. And there is just the most beautiful view of these awesome snowcapped mountains. I looked down, I hadn’t realized how far I had climbed but there is Becky a tiny little dot way below. We watched the sun setting behind these snowcapped mountains, and I got a few pictures in. In my mind, I was wondering how I was getting down. I told Daniel, “You are going to have to carry me because I am going to die.”
One at a time, we slowly go back down, figuring it out as we go. Obviously, we survived, thank goodness. I never would have believed I could have continued climbing after reaching the puddle. I never even saw that part so making it to the last peak and down again was kind of like a silver lining almost. Life gave me this little puddle, but look there is a mountain I can climb.
Debra Wuliger, figurative artist working with color, texture and pattern to celebrate life.
Image silhouetted with story. Ready for hanging.