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Checking out the mountains

I like lists, especially checklists with boxes I can tick off to show my progress. I even make lists of the lists I need to make. I sometimes add assignments that I’ve already completed to an existing list, just to check them off (beaming at my productivity prowess).I completed all of the Colorado fourteeners before turning age 50, but now I’m back to another check-off list for climbing these highest peaks in the state. The guidebooks divide the 54 peaks into levels of difficulty, from moderate to very difficult. (There’s no such thing as an “easy” fourteener.) Some books even have a wonderful checklist by category, with nice little check-off boxes. How great is that?So, why am I dragging my older, overweight self up to the top of these beasts all over again? It’s for my granddaughter, Maren. Following her first summit of a 14,000-foot mountain with me and her dad, Joe; she was hooked.Some time ago, on our way up Maren’s starter fourteener, Mt. Sherman, we paused on a rocky ridge to catch our breath and enjoy the panoramic views, while I listed some of the other peaks in the region. I told Maren that, as I get older, I might not be able to do the toughest ones with her. She and her dad might have to do those, as I cheer them on from the bottom.”But, Papa,” she said to me, “who will help us to the top? Who will guide us? You’ve climbed them all. We need you.” I felt a lump in my throat. “Who will point out to us Mt. Elbert? The five peaks of Mt. Massive? You have to keep doing this with us!”Ok, I’m hooked, again. I’m on my second round, and will climb all these mountains, showing the way, Heaven permitting, as long as I can. Maren and I have summited 11 together so far, and she wants to do six to eight more this summer before going off to college. She even has her own check-off list for the completed peaks. I’m so proud!T. Duren Jones tells adventure stories about some of his fourteener climbs with Maren in his book, ìTales from the Trailsî ó available from Amazon Books.

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