The new falcon herald logo.
General Articles

From the top, a view within

Our squabble on the summit of Pikes Peak started as an attempt at humor. I had noticed that being primates, we humans will reach for almost anything handed to us, at least initially. “Here’s a smelly sock for you.” “Here, have this really hot potato.” “Here’s the bill for everyone’s meal at the restaurant.” So, many years ago when my young wife went to hand me our infant son as we stepped from the cog train, I thought it’d be funny to smile and just leave my hands at my sides. I was wrong.”You take this baby right now!” I could see she wasn’t laughing and with a weak chuckle, I took the baby.I’d guess that walking up Pikes Peak is rather a bit like having a baby. A couple of years go by and you remember only the fun and forget the hassle. I’ve climbed Pikes Peak seven times now and it does need to be a couple of years between hikes for a keen desire to reappear.Our 7-month-old little boy that rode the cog to the summit grew to 16 years old. When he was 161/2 (that’s 198 months old for the moms out there), he wanted to hike the Peak with me. “But son, it’s 27 miles of walking, round trip in a day, from Manitou. You sure you’re up for that?” Of course he was! He was 16, growing in strength every day and clearly immortal. He’d walked half that far with me before, and easily. But that was over flat ground. “That mountain is steep and the air is thin above tree line,” I’d told him. He was undaunted and so we trained a bit for the hike and set out.Usually, I start walking from Manitou at 5 a.m. and am back down by late afternoon. Just in case, I’d had the presence of mind to pick a day for the hike that ended in a full moon.Jaunty and eager at first, we set out for Barr Camp, our first rest. His pace had slowed quite a bit by the time we got there. Miles to go, I put him in front to set our pace as he’d like and told him gently that the A-frame cabin at tree line was a good goal. We could turn around there. He wasn’t having any of it. We would go the entire distance.I fed us at the top and we made it back to the car in the moonlight, long after dark. He never knew I was aware of him soldiering on. He was bone weary and weeping silently those last couple of miles in the moonlit darkness. I pretended not to notice as I stayed with him. Walking that last bit, it seemed as though his legs were wooden. At the car, he fell into the passenger seat like a sack of grain and physically had to lift each leg over the door sill with his arms. We had refreshments at the car, and I made no big scene over his extraordinary effort, just spoke the simple truth: “Tremendous job, son. I am thoroughly proud of you. Up and down the hill, 27 miles. We did it, didn’t we?”Yes, we did. Men don’t seem to have a lot of genuine bonding experiences these days, but we had that one together. My son became less a boy and more a man that day. Much tougher than he’d thought, he exceeded his own ability and saw it through. Doesn’t matter if it’s easier for one and harder for another. How hard is it for you? And will you see it through or quit? These things define us. That night driving home I smiled. I saw what he was made of and most important, he saw it too.Just a few weeks ago I was back on Pikes Peak by request with a friend’s husband. I’d known Colleen since she was a young girl, and her husband I had met a couple of times since they’d been married. Colleen whispered in my ear: “Kick his butt, Tom. He needs it.” Whoa! Unexpected, that. Max is an athlete. At 35 years old he’s a marathon runner and long distance cyclist in addition to being a research physicist. Max, I discovered, possesses a very chatty active mind and is a narcissist. That last is not a judgment, but a quote! Max is rightfully quite proud of himself and also happens to be 20 years younger than I. Just a hike, not a competition, at least not so as you’d notice. I wondered how this day would go.A third of the way up the mountain I put him in front so that we could stay together. By tree line, the chitchat had definitely tapered off. By the snow fields we were having real fun, as the top was near. At the summit a new friendship had begun. The self-proclaimed narcissist had a new respect for old guys, and I had a new respect for a proud man who can lower himself down a peg with aplomb.Some Michigan tourists had ridden the cog train up and seeing us said: “Wow, did you (sweaty disheveled) guys walk up here?” “Yes,” Max told them. “Why, yes we did.” A lady was nervous about the train’s steep descent. “Not to worry,” I told her. “I have it on good authority that there are two big springs at the bottom of the mountain to stop a runaway train – Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs.” She smiled weakly and chuckled in spite of her nerves, but the men thought this quite funny.Max and I hiked down with tired knees and pleasant exhaustion, laughing and chatting. We promised to do other 14’ers together, having tested one another and having passed the mountain’s test. “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it” the old ranchers say and so it is with us all. We need our tests and challenges and humor. And when it’s over we’re closer, sharing adventure. Adventure merely being adversity, rightly considered. All in all a great day. No one had tried to hand me a baby. And the smelly socks in my hand? Well, they were mine. I’d earned em’.Tom

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers