When I lived in Colorado, I would visit the mountains often. Surrounded by their majesty and beauty, it was always a treat to take a weekend and go up to the mountain for an up-close personal visit. Each mountain is unique and has its own challenges to scale in order to reach the top. The mountains I would visit I could get almost to the top by horseback. When I had reached as far as I could safely on the horse, I would hike to the top. Not every mountain can be hiked to the top. There are mountain tops that can be reached only with the aid of ropes. I chose the mountain tops I could reach without the aid of ropes.
I start my way upward from the valley on horseback. Every step moving us closer to the top. We travel under the trees in the shadow of the mountain. As the horse and I get closer to the mountaintop, the trees start to spread apart, fewer and smaller. Then ground turns to loose stones and rock. He I must leave the horses and go alone. The climbing is slow as one foot has to be securely in place before you move the other foot upward. No trees grow at the top, very few flowers or other small plants are seen. There is the constant very chilly wind, an occasional marmot, a soaring eagle and the mountain to watch your progress upward.
Once at the top, the smell of the fresh thin air is refreshing and exhilarating. The view, words can not speak and photos can not show the grandeur or breathtaking beauty the eye beholds from a mountaintop. Your body aches, your heart beats loudly from the struggle of the climb and lack of oxygen at those heights.
Your mind just stops, the senses taking in the views. At the top you feel you can see the whole world, each house looks like a small pebble, people can not be seen without aide. The mind relaxes, there is a feeling of no problems, no work. Nothing exists but you and the mountain and what the senses behold.
But a person can not stay on the mountaintop long. The night temperatures drop drastically. A person has to pack supplies and equipment needed as there are no resources for shelter, food or water at the top. Down the mountain the person has to come. The trip down those rocky, slippery slopes is more dangerous. It is harder to keep on solid foot while moving down to get a the second foot hold. Once I am back down to the horses, I am glad they will carry my tired body back to camp.
As we move down towards the valley and camp, the trees start to appear. The first trees are scraggly and thin, due to surviving in the colder and harsher climate than those a few hundred feet farther down. Soon there is grass, flowers and meadows busy with the sounds and movements of insects, birds, elk, deer and other wildlife. Our senses are busy with all the activity that surrounds us. Our vision blocked by huge pine trees. We are moving in the shadow of the mountaintop, every going downward farther and farther from the top of the world.
Soon, I am back at the campground. There are people around taking and going on with what they are doing. The noise of warm campfires, the smell of cooking. I care for the horses, giving extra feed and a good brush. Their muscles are as tired as mine.
We are back in the valley, the thoughts of the day linger as the thoughts of getting back to work and family start to take over. Tonight I will sleep soundly, too tired to care about the everyday commitments I will return to in the morning.
Like taking a weekend and reaching a mountaintop, I have reached several different mountain tops during my life. Each mountain top required the some effort and struggle to reach. I have always been glad to reach the top. But once there in order to move forward in life, we must come down that mountain in order to reach the next mountain. Life does not stand still, and neither can we.
Currently, I am looking for the next mountain to climb. The mountain I was on has changed. I am not sure where I am going, or where I will be. But I do know there is a mountain for me to climb, and when I reach the top, the experience and memories will be beyond words and beautiful.