Mountaintops (1)

My lifepath has included a few achievements that I’m proud of.  Sometimes, I remember to put them in perspective—knowing, of course, that all my deeds are really pretty worthless, except insofar as they have advanced the Kingdom!  A couple of these achievements are academic, and a few are directly related to the things of the Lord.

Two physical accomplishments are sources of some pride, which privately strikes my soul as somewhat ironic, since I haven’t grasped the door handle of the gym on our campus in more than 8 months.  I’m not in great shape right now, but during the summers of 2006 and 2007, I hiked to the top of two 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado.  For the uninitiated:  this really is an accomplishment, and took a bit of planning and a lot of stick-to-it-iveness on the days I made the climbs.  But Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in the 48 contiguous states, is one of the easiest to climb; and Mt. Bierstadt is another on the short list of peaks one can climb in the summer without special gear.  They both took a lot of physical effort, but I was only one of 100-200 people who made it to the top on those particular days.

It may naturally elude those who haven’t visited the Rockies that one doesn’t climb the entire extent of a mountain–whether it’s 9,000 feet high or 14,000.  One may start around 7K or 9K.  In the case of the 14ers I did, it was somewhere between 9K and 10K, I think, where I parked the car, and I hiked for the next 4+ hours up to 14K+.  For me, the need to carry drinking water was balanced by the need not to carry anything extra, but the choices I made ended up OK, and I made it up without injury or complete exhaustion.  For most, including me, stopping every now & then to “catch your breath” and let your heart rate slow a little is a good idea.  Looking up at how far/high you still have to climb is not necessarily a good idea.

Upon reaching the top, I experienced an exhilaration like no other.  A smiling ease and pleasure that thinks “I did it” while availing yourself of every scenic vista, because you know you won’t be doing this again anytime soon.  There’s a sense of accomplishment, and a joy at being on the mountaintop—and in the case of Mt. Elbert, on top of the 48 states!

Tomorrow:  spiritual “mountaintops”


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