September 9th was a momentous day as my team and I climbed to the top of Pikes Peak – – – 14,000’ starting from 6,000’ feet – – – over 13 miles. The beginning couple of miles are quite steep, but I had been training at a 125 incline for hours on my treadmill, so that wasn’t too bad. It was hard but very doable on my own.
We stopped after about 4 hours at Barr Camp for 30 minutes for lunch and some pictures. I kept urging the team to leave sooner as I just had this sense that ‘every minute mattered.’ How little did I know every minute did matter!
The next part of the trail wasn’t too hard but my emotions kept surfacing in waves. The unmet longing as a child to be encouraged surfaced as I was surrounded by four people who were giving me nothing but encouragement. At one point I simply stopped and wept over my appreciation for their love and support.
We thought we would be at the top by 4:00, but at 4 we still had 2 miles left — -the hardest 2 miles. When I saw that 2-mile sign (picture) . . . something in my broke and I sat down and cried. I didn’t think I could go any father.
Somewhere along there, Anna (our daughter) started really talking to my heart. She said, “Mom, there are 2 words — -“Yes” you can finish and “No” you can’t. Which word do you choose?” I could barely say “yes” but that is the word in my heart was crying out.
She replied, “Every time you move your walking stick, say “yes” out loud. It will give a rhythm to your breathing and it will give you energy.” At that point I put my trust in Anna and started saying “yes” with every two steps.
At times weeping would overcome me, but my “yes” continued to come. When the rocks got big, Anna would show me where to put my feet and she would offer her hand to help lift me over.
Anna led the way – she gave me the life-line and hope that I could take the next step. “Yes” led me to the top.
As we reached the 16 Golden Stairs (which I had thought were only 16 big steps), I realized it was 16 switch-backs over rocks and around boulders. Every little bit I would ask, “Are we close?” She would so gently say “yes” and help me the next little bit.
That last mile I only rested about 2 or 3 times. I had an urgency to keep moving. We reached the top at 6:00 – the time rangers can send your rides home and leave you alone. (At that point Rangers take you off the mountain at $500/person – with 5 of us that would have been an expensive ride!).
More than the expense – — -not having Tim and Anne at the top would have been heart crushing. I knew they were waiting. I knew they would capture the pictures of cresting the top.
Hearing their voices call me touched another layer of my heart. Friends were there purely to support and encourage at the top. Their voice gave me the final “yes” thatI could reach the top. The “yes” of friends, Anna’s “yes” and finally “MY Yes” – – – it took me to the TOP!