I am almost 50 years old – basically I’m 50 minus 2, or 48 to be exact. For most of my life it seems as if people who are 50 are fairly “old “ – but as I approach this half century mark, I’m thinking it’s not so bad. Still, it seems that as you approach 50, some goals might be in order.
Back in my 20s and 30s I thought of myself as a “climber,” rather than a “hiker.” I may have even scoffed at hikers a time or two. The only 14ers that I was interested in were ones with technical or more difficult routes – like the yellow wall on the diamond, which I think is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and which was a milestone in my life of climbing.
After getting married at 41, my husband, Alex, suggested one weekend, that we hike a 14er – Mt. Lindsey. Initially I was not that psyched, but agreed to the hike anyway. Around this time I was playing with a heart rate monitor and figured that I’d wear it on the Lindsay hike and see what this 14er could do for my fitness level. As any of you heart monitor geeks can attest, hiking 14ers spikes the heart rate and burns tons of calories. Additionally, the class 3 scrambling towards the top of Lindsey was super fun. Needless to say I was hooked and from this point on gained a new respect for Colorado’s 14ers. Still, I did not plan, at this time, to pursue climbing/hiking all of the 14ers, even though my husband decided that he was going to finish them all – which he did about four years ago. I did many with him, focusing mostly on the class 3 and class 4 routes. Currently I have 19 of the 14ers left to summit. With the exception of the Wilson group and a class 3 route on LaPlata, most of the ones that I have left to summit are long, class two hikes. My favorites – Pyramid, Capitol, Longs Peak, the Crestones, the Maroons, Little Bear – have already been checked off the list.
At some point in time, I’m not sure when, I decided that I did want to complete the 14ers and that I’d like to get them “done” before I turn 50. I was a bit annoyed, however, because there were several instances where I had completed two of three 14ers in a particular grouping – such as doing the Little Bear/Blanca traverse, but had not finished the easier Ellingwood Point, which I should have done during the same trip. This now means that I will have to drive 6 hours, hike 5 miles up a dirt road, set up camp and hike Ellingwood Point – when I should have done it the first time around. Still, I’m excited to hike each of the 14ers. And do you really ever “complete” a mountain? I’ll likely go back for seconds and thirds on many of these amazing peaks as each is so different and there’s just something spectacular about getting up high.
As I continue to check off my list of 14ers, my husband, Alex, has been gracious enough to accompany me on several. Our dogs, Max (14 years old) and Sophie (a 17 pound Boston Terrier), have accompanied us on several as well. I seriously believed that I was going to be able to complete my goal of hiking all of the 14ers before reaching my half-century mark. However, after hiking Mt. Yale last weekend, Alex decided that “our” goal should really be to complete the Centennials (the 100 highest peaks in Colorado), of which the 14ers are merely a subset. Many of the Centennials are close to home – in the ranges that are only a few hours from where we live. Several of the more challenging and remote ones are located in the San Juans. Alex is very convincing and after listening to all his arguments as to why we should change “our” goal, I am psyched to have a joint goal that will continue to take us to many beautiful places and will continue to improve our fitness level as we jointly near that 50 year mark. I’m guessing I will probably not complete all the 14ers by the time I’m 50, as some of them will get bumped for other peaks. But in the end, it’s not really about “completing” our lists – but rather about maintaining our fitness and experiencing the breath-taking views and loveliness of this state that we call Colorado.
If you’re interested in some of these Centennials – check out 13ers.com