Thursday, September 1, 2011

High on the Mountaintop

       Ernest Hemingway said, "There are only three sports:  Bull fighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; the rest are merely games."  While I have always climbed rocks, I rarely would ever summit mountains, and this was mainly for two reasons.  First, the routes I climbed generally stop well below the summit, and second, summiting mountains is something I can do when I am older, as in, "He summits mountains because he is too old to climb them."  Having hiked my first mountain that is over 14,000 feet in elevation, I learned that either a) I am not stallion athlete that I pictured in my mind (think young Arnold Schwarzenegger only with better endurance and English), b) I am delusional, or c) thirty is sufficiently old.
       Yesterday I hiked Long's Peak via the Keyhole route.  I along with my brother-in-law Doug, and my now friend and Facebook friend Pie, started the hike around four in the morning and spent the next eleven and a half hours wandering through the wilderness.  The route itself was a total of fourteen miles, with a 5,100 feet elevation change to top out at 14, 255 feet.  I have hiked Half Dome in Yosemite that tops out around 8,800 feet, but nothing prepared me for the altitude.  At times I staggered through the hike like a drunk man trying to play hopscotch if hopscotch consisted of giant boulders and the risk of being blown off a mountain.  Nonetheless, it was either Alexander the Great or Captain Witwicky that said, "No sacrifice, no victory!" and I pressed on to the top.  Summiting was awesome and I caught the fourteener bug.  

       I will leave the two people that read my blog a couple of lessons that I picked up along the way.  One, you can have too much water...and food.  Fearful of dehydration, I packed a lot of water as well as food.  My pack was heavy, and I eventually felt every extra Teddy Graham cracker that journeyed with me.  Two, capitalism is on the brink of annihilation.  I only say this because the night prior to the hike I stopped at the supermarket, and it only carried mini Honey Teddy Grahams.  For starters, Teddy Grahams are already miniature so having mini Teddy Grahams is an idiotic concept (unless Nabisco is marketing to the Daniel Neil Rodgers crowd).  Moreover, of all the Teddy Grahams, why only carry honey flavor.  Lastly, with only one size and flavor to choose from, I had to buy them.  Thus my conclusion that the Spirit of 1776  is dying which is really sad considering most ghosts are already dead (if anyone can explain whether spirits/ghosts become ghosts after they die, I would appreciate that).  On to three.  It is not enough to not pee in the wind.  Winds change.  Find shelter, a crevasse, or anything else to block the wind.  Four, while carrying out three, check those windstoppers before committing.  And lastly, either Jack Dawson or John A. Shedd stated, "A ship in harbor is safe--but that is not what ships are built for."  So go hike something.

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