I took another look at my Buddhist friend’s horoscope after I posted about it last week. It has lived above my desk, lo these many years. One of the things it says (no lie) is “there is no guarantee you’ll make it.”
Well, that was my experience of my first 14er attempt. And it wasn’t even close. Less than 5 minutes in, my asthma (which sometimes is, and usually is not, a factor) was so bad, I fell behind my group. And the guide, after trying to encourage me, suggested that, given our late start and the importance of getting off the mountain before afternoon storms rolled in (a predictable occurrence, bringing the most serious danger in recreational mountain climbing— being struck by lightning), that perhaps I shouldn’t go for the summit.
It was disappointing, but it was a gorgeous day for a hike. And I didn’t really think about it until we were there, but given that we started above tree line (at a certain altitude [not sure if it’s universal, but in this case it was 12,000 feet or so], trees won’t grow, probably because of the scarcity of oxygen. And at a point even higher, not much of anything grows.), the summit was pretty unappealing to me— rocky and dusty, exposed and barren feeling. That plus the sensation of suffocating combined to make me happy to hike, take pictures, and read at lower altitude for the five hours the group spent getting to the top, hanging out there, and returning to the cars.
Here are some of the lovely pictures I took instead of climbing to the top of the mountain.