Life Above 14,000ft.

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After taking my first trip out to Colorado in 2013 and getting to experience the mountains, things changed for me. I found myself craving experiences that really put things into perspective and challenge me to think beyond the borders of my day-to-day life. The mountains are magical. Having a bad day? Sit yourself at the bottom of a mountain and look up; your problems aren’t really that big at all. Feel like things aren’t going your way? Hike to the top of a mountain and bask in the success of making it to the peak. It never gets old.

Being in Denver puts me only a short 30 minute drive away to the front range and I have got to climb/hike some incredible areas. If you’re a nature lover like me, there’s no such thing as a “bad area” to hike. What I really love doing however, is making the drive into the mountains and losing sight of the city. I have been at elevation for two months now and I guess I would say I am acclimated (unless it’s climbing stairs -they get me every time). Regardless, I knew I was ready to check the next thing off of my bucket list: climbing a 14er. For those of you who do not know, a 14er is a mountain peak that takes you up 14,000ft+ above sea level. So last Thursday I had the day off and my friend and I headed out at 6am to take on Mt. Bierstadt. It’s a 7 mile round trip hike taking you up to 14,065ft! As we were driving through the pass, I felt like a little kid about to get on a roller-coaster. We had our lunches packed, our camel backs full of water, lots of sunscreen and layers for the temperature change at the top! When we arrived at the trailhead, it felt like we were in another world. The views were absolutely gorgeous; the perfect little blue lake, the running creek, the patches of snow, and the sun shining so bright. It almost didn’t seem real. We set off into the lush green valley filled with wild flowers before before making our ascent. After hopping a river filled with fresh mountain run-off, we started heading up. It really wasn’t until we got up past the tree line that I really started to feel the effects of the elevation. We were climbing quickly and the air just kept getting thinner. We stopped here and there to catch our breath as well as take in the incredible views. There were two patches of snow we had to trudge our way through and then the trail turned into rocks. The last 15-20 minutes we spent our time climbing and maneuvering our way around massive boulders and finding our way to the peak. Once we made it to the top, a huge sense of accomplishment washed over me. 14,000ft is no joke. We could see so far and the mountain range continued on into the horizon. It was a “had to be there” moment. The combination of taking everything in that is right in front of you and pairing that with how deep you had to dig to get yourself up to that point was just so humbling. Every moment up at the top was just as beautiful as the one before it. I never felt readyΒ to come down, but the wind was picking up and it looked like an afternoon storm was on it’s way in. Going down, I’m pretty sure we stopped just as many times as we did on our way up to take some more pictures. I probably said “this is incredible!” a gazillion times, but no other words could come to mind that could actually do the mountains any justice. The whole way down I found new things that left me speechless and it just felt good to be there in that moment.

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When we finally made it back to the parking lot all hot and sweaty with tired legs, we popped open the back of the truck facing the mountain we just conquered and munched on some fresh fruit. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. I marked something else off of my bucket list and that night actually started hunting for the next 14er to take on. Life is too short to not step outside of your comfort zone and take advantage of things that you normally wouldn’t do. This world is filled with incredible adventures. You just have to be open to the challenge.

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