From Marketing Fatigue To Mountain Heights: A Journey to Mount Yale
Work was just finishing up on a sweaty Friday afternoon. It was a busy week working on the marketing efforts for my new gym, Ascend PT. As much as I appreciate the importance of marketing, I never thought focusing on developing the craft of marketing was something I wanted to do with my life. I always felt that the best businesses were grown from word of mouth and excellence of service but now I know the importance marketing can have to a new brand. All this marketing talk this week had burned me out and I was ready for a weekend adventure.
Friday afternoon, I headed home and began the preparation for this adventure. I had decided I was going to hike my first collegiate peak, Mount Yale and try to catch a sunrise on top of the mountain. This was tricky because not only would I be going solo but I would also be hiking through the mountain forest at night. I began putting together all the necessities for the trip. After triple checking I had everything, I got in the car and had my directions to the trail-head and set out to Mount Yale. The 2 1/2 hour ride was nice and easy and I couldn’t help but feel the weight of the week and responsibilities start to shift to a new thinking pattern. As I was appreciating the beautiful scenery around me I started to naturally plan out what time I should leave in the morning and some other details of the trip.
This was be my 14th mountain summit of a 14,000 foot peak in one year’s time. I was ready to see what Mount Yale had to offer! This trail-head was completely paved and smooth. I found a spot, laid out my blanket out it the back of the SUV and began to settle in for the night. It was around 10:30pm when I was reading my book and began to fall asleep.
My alarm woke me up at 1:30am and the familiar reality of regaining my bearings hit me. I was at the trail-head and I had a long morning ahead of me. I began to put on my gear and get my backpack filled with water, and all the pre-hike necessities. There were a bunch of cars in the parking lot but I was the only one who was up and leaving at this time. Although I was feeling slightly dizzy, I managed to orient myself and set out. The night was pitch black and the stars were brighter than ever. The forest was tall, cold and quiet amidst the powerful river stream. The whole noise of the forest was silent among the rushing water. It has always been a slightly uneasy feeling going through the vastness of the mountain alone. The air was just cold enough to notice and I was really blessed with the perfect morning hiking conditions. The path crossed over the river several times in the early stages before leaving the droning comfort into the quietness and solitude of the tree’s. My headlamp gave me an idea of what was ahead and the light in my hand was focusing on the trail’s rocks. After zoning out for 90 minutes I was quickly brought back to reality when turning a corner and there up in the trail I saw two eyes turn towards me. It was a moderately steep incline and something was in the trail. I stopped and we stared at each other for a few seconds. I thought it was a coyote or something of that size and after a few seconds it scampered into the woods.
Once out of the treeline out and into the boulder portion, I began to start to feel the sweat kick in. This was when the real workout of the hike started to push my cardio capacity. It was 4:10am and I had to hustle and keep pace to make it to the summit for the sunrise. The total distance was 6.5 miles to the top with a 4800 foot elevation gain ( only because I made a wrong turn and had to backtrack a bit). As I began this portion I was really working on keeping the water sips going and stomaching as many little bites of trail mix as possible. At this point now it was a mission to get to the saddle of the mountain. The saddle was about 45 minutes shy of the true summit. I was taking about 25 steps, resting for 2 seconds and then carrying on. At this point I had been hiking uphill for about 2 1/2 hours.
My mind was clear of the past. I was in the moment and looking forward to the top. The blackness of the night was beginning to shade hints of dawn. I was about 10 minutes from the saddle and began to feel the energy of the view. As the dawn came I began to get a glimpse of the incredible scenery around me. The trees below were beautifully setting the mountains, merging with the skies early morning colors. I took a few moments to rest and appreciate the solitude before pushing for the top.
As I approached the saddle with a sigh of relief and accomplishment, I welcomed the sun that had begun to make it’s appearance amidst the sea of mid-level clouds. I crossed to the other side to get a glimpse and was completely overcome. I was past exhausted, and feeling the altitude. I stopped for a minute to take in the whole picture before pushing through the false summit. There was a good 25 minute scramble across big boulders to reach the true summit. This was when the energy kicked in and I felt my efforts coming to fruition. As I reached the summit, I picked out a spot facing east, I pulled all my snacks out and sat down. It felt amazing to rest. The view was absolutely indescribable. The dense layer of clouds had swept in and held their place, just barely allowing the sun to push through. The smaller mountains surrounding this peak seemed massive in their own rights, lending hand to the outline of this picturesque morning. The wind was mild yet chilly, reminding me to utilize my pockets for warmth.
I began heading down and ran into a group of girls just approaching the saddle. They seemed equally relieved to have reached this point in the journey and seemed to be feeling the cardiovascular effects of their efforts. I asked “are you girls having fun”? To which they all replied in unison, “Yeah” except for one girl who said “Heck yea”. with a “is this all you got attitude”. Over the next couple hours of the descent I exchanged pleasantries with just about every person looking to summit. Some asked me how the summit was, in look for hopes and good news that it wasn’t much farther. The way back down went without a hitch and just a grind of a constant barrage of down steps.
Getting back to the car was the culmination of the hike. Taking my hiking shoes off was heavenly. I sat in the back of my SUV and just took in the day for a bit before heading into Buena Vista for lunch and a beer. I headed to the Simple Eatery to relax before the drive home. As I was approaching Denver I thought I do one last thing for the day and decided to book 18 holes at Kennedy Golf Course. I played a full 18 holes in the sun and on the 18th green my feet started to give out on me.
I made my way home, barely and eventually found my way to getting a great nights sleep. What an amazing hike and a beautiful experience to have. These trips remind me how small and insignificant my problems are, compared to the vast and expansive mountains.