My Mountain

If a 400lb man can climb 2000 vertical feet in 4 hours, what kind of unnecessary limitations can you overcome?

A year ago I got this brilliant idea to hike a 14er in Colorado with my best friend, his family, and mine. A 14er is a mountain that reaches 14,000ft in elevation or more. Last year I got freaked out when I topped out on the scales at 450lbs. Holy crap right?? Yeah, that’s about what I said when I saw those numbers for the first time. I decided it was time to stop screwing around and get healthy. I needed a goal to work towards to reward myself with, something I would be proud of. So I called my buddy up in Colorado and told him I wanted to hike to the top of a 14er. Instead of laughing, he said “Let’s do it”.

I made a training log to figure out how many miles I needed to work up to in order to make it to the top of my mountain. At first I tried walking around my neighborhood. My wife was a big help in starting out as my training partner, and suggested we try going for a mile walk. I scoffed and said not a problem. Boy was I wrong….a mile!!! Holy Crap!! (Yes, this phrase keeps popping up in my story so get used to it…) At the end of my first mile, I was thinking to myself, “How the hell am I ever going to make it the top of a mountain?”

But the key here is that I did not quit. You see, so many times I have tried to diet and exercise, but I was not ready mentally to do so. I was finally ready to make lifestyle changes and not look at it as a diet. This time, I gave myself no choice to back out. I made plans with other people to do something on a vacation so I would have to go through with it. I stuck with it and slowly built up my endurance to where I was able to hike 3 miles out at Hillsdale Lake. Once I hit 3 miles, each week my mileage increased to where the Saturday before we left, I was able to hike 8 miles. At this point, knowing I was able to hike 8 miles when a year ago I struggled with walking a mile was huge for me. Oh, and I forgot to mention at this point that I had now lost 50lbs. This was a big achievement in a year.

So we get out to Colorado Springs on a Friday, stay there for 3 days, getting acclimated to the altitude since that was going to play a huge factor in climbing my mountain then we pack up and head out to camp. The first night we camp at an elevation of 7000ft. The headache started the first night we got there. Simple reason was I was not drinking enough water. My wife and my buddy forced me to drink so much water from that point on, my bladder about to go on strike. The next day we drove about an hour and a half to our base camp which was at an elevation of 10,000ft or so. Let me state here that I did not drink hardly any water that day while we were in the car, and I paid for it dearly. As we get to the campsite, it starts one of those mid-afternoon mountain rain storms. Already my attitude was starting to sour, being cold, damp and having a raging headache that at times was making me want to vomit. I tried to cheer up and look on the bright side that I wasn’t in Kansas when it was 107 and hasn’t rained in 6 weeks. So forcing more water into my body from that point on was a necessity. In the middle of the night, I almost woke my wife up to tell her I was done and we were packing it up and heading back, the headache was that bad. I’m glad I didn’t.

We woke up and my headache was much better so we decided to go for a short hike to work on getting used to the altitude. At this point we were 24 hours from “the big hike” and I was starting to get my confidence back. I was going to own this mountain.

We start off at the grizzly gulch trail and the scenery is beautiful. We hike up the first 200 ft or so and I had to sit down and catch my breath, thinking to myself “Holy Crap!! There is no freakin’ way I am making it to the top of the mountain tomorrow”. Right there the mental challenge kicked in and I had a hard time battling the negative thoughts and negative attitude.

I think the mental challenge was just as tough as the hiking was. But I did not give up. You see, giving up was not an option. Right there when I decided that, I won that battle. We ended up hiking to about 11,400ft that day and when I got done, the leg cramps started and the soreness set in.

So we get up the next morning at 5 a.m. to start the hike by 6 so we can get off the mountain before an afternoon storm hits. It was slow going, but I listened to my body and stopped when I needed to and moved at the pace that I felt was comfortable. My wife and youngest son hiked with me while the rest of our group went on at a little faster pace. We reached about 11,700ft when all of a sudden my legs seized up and the muscle cramps were so bad, I couldn’t move an inch without screaming. And that’s just what I did. I yelled and cussed at that mountain because I felt defeated at that moment.

I was pissed because I knew there that I would not be making it to the top of my mountain. For about fifteen minutes my legs cramped until I was able to walk about 100ft to where my wife and son were waiting for me. They never heard me scream or yell because I was so close to the river and the noise from that drowned me out. I told them I was finished and could not go on. Sheri (my wife) radioed ahead and told the rest of the group that she was sending Matthew up to them and that I was done.

My buddy Dave told me he was proud of me and that I accomplished new goals. He mentioned that they were about 300ft above at 12,000ft of elevation and if I could make that far, I would see some beautiful scenery. After my son left to join the group, we sat there for about fifteen minutes till I felt I could walk again. I looked at my wife and said “Let’s get to 12,000ft.” So it was slow and painful, but 45 minutes later, we got there. We made it above tree line. Was I disappointed that I didn’t make it to the top? Of course I was, but I was proud of what I did do, and it just gives me motivation to go back and get to the top someday.

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Posted by admin on Aug 8 2012. Filed under Opinion, Short Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “My Mountain”

  1. Great Job! I too struggle with getting healthy. I do good for a while and fall back into bad habits. It is great to read about how others find it within themselves to get back into it and how they keep motivated. Never, never, ever give up.

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