Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Saying goodbye to a place I've called home for 3 years has been way harder then I thought it would be! So many friends who accepted me and helped make Colorado Springs feel like home. I joined the climbing and flying communities as soon as I came into town. Making friends in those worlds was pretty easy, but most of them were males. When I met Mareshah, I was so excited to have found a hardcore female adventurer!
Our schedules rarely coincide, but when they do, we have a blast. From climbing to hiking to just hanging out, we have always had plenty to talk about! It has been so fun! In honor of our adventurous spirits, I agreed to take one final trip planned by Mareshah before leaving the Springs. We planned the dates weeks in advance to make sure our schedules meshed.
Having been off work for a week, I had begun to get slightly lazy, enjoying my slow morning wake-ups and coffee. Mareshah told me we were climbing a 14er and maybe even two. I was surprised by her confidence in me, but also excited to try. Originally, we were planning to hike up to Mt Belford, over to Oxford and back down the other side where our bikes would be waiting for us. We then had a 6 mile ride up hill to our car. Thankfully, Mareshah saw the light and decided to take two cars instead. The forecast called for a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, so we had to start early. Luckily, I had a fully equipped camper van for us to crash in the night before. We drove up and fell easily to sleep in our adventure mobile.
Mareshah looking great, I'm a little sweaty...
The alarm rang at 4:15am. Opening my eyes and trying to get contacts in, took a small miracle, but I was successful. Watery eyes and all, we headed out up the dark trail with a start time of 5:05 am. Other hikers had begun to appear and all began the steep ascent towards victory. The first hour was passed fairly easily with our headlamps as our only guide to what lied ahead. As the hint of first light crept into our part of the world, I could finally see the beauty of the forest we were tromping through. It was so pretty and perfect!

We came upon ruins of an old cabin shortly after our first hour had passed. What a lovely place to settle down:) As we moved higher, the trees began to thin. We broke out of the tree line and into a beautiful valley filled with wildflowers and alpine bushes. The snow runoff was still making its way down through valley we were in, serenading our every step. We also got our first look at the top of Belford. It looked so far away and I could see the trail up and up and up. I thought to myself "I should have done the incline a few more times this summer!"
There were a few people ahead of us and they gave me encouragement, knowing I just had to keep moving to get to where they were. "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." ran through my head as I marched towards the top. Mareshah was an all-star and moved seemingly effortlessly compared to me, but I kept moving. It was fun to try and make goals of how far I could get before having to stop and catch my breath. I was trying to find a pace where I didn't need to stop, but the altitude mixed with the steep incline kept me from doing so. We saw lots of marmots and pikas as we got higher and higher. I also got slower and slower, allowing me to enjoy the scenery more. When we reached to top, I was felt so good! It was amazing to fight against your aching feet and force them onward. I views from the top were fantastic! Mareshah and I soaked it up. She had enough breath to chat with a few other people who reached the summit at the same time as us, but I enjoyed the break and opportunity to just breath.
From the peak of Belford, we could see Oxford. It looked close, but yet so far and with so little oxygen in between.
Atop Belford

What a view!

Starting towards Oxford was hard because my legs had gotten so used to going up by this point. I forced them onward and down we went. We met back up with a girl who had passed us on the way up. She was already finished with both peaks and heading back. Her speed and stamina amazed Mareshah and I so we had to find out her secret. She was a college basketball player who cross trained as well. We were impressed! Mareshah got to talking with her and I took another much appreciated break.
Reaching Oxford was easier then Belford for me. I had finally found my pace and just had to keep from starting out too fast after breaks. I reached to top with less breaks and savored the victory of my second 14,000+ peak for the day! Mareshah brought a Pay Day candy bar that we split in honor of our accomplishment.

Going down was long and hard, but also beautiful and rewarding. There was no trail going off the other side of Oxford, but we paved a new way and headed towards a ridge line that ended by meeting up with the Colorado Trail. It took us a few hours to descend. Mareshah even did one more ascent to get to the top of a 13er. I happily stayed low and took pictures of her conquering the rock pile.
The alpine meadow we hiked through was beautiful! There were birds, flowers, and even some mountain goat poop!  I was hoping we would see some, but they must have been there a few days before and moved on.

The ridge line we hiked.

Mareshah on top of the 13er!
The forecast called for possible storms at 2 pm. We entered tree line right at 2 and celebrated being off the peaks with a snack break.  From there, we simply followed the Colorado Trail down to the parking area. I say simply, but it was a grueling downhill as our legs were feeling the miles already done that day. The best reprise was finding ripe raspberries all along the trail. We happily plucked the juicy ones and carried our prize down the trail with us.

Seeing the car and the end of our hiking day was a glorious moment. I was so happy we didn't have to get on bikes! I am hardcore, but not that hardcore! I loved getting to spend the day with my adventuring friend. Being able to follow her up the mountains was a blast and I can't wait to see what other adventures we find ourselves in! Thanks for a great goodbye trip, Mareshah!!! Saying goodbye to you was the most physical goodbye I had to do:)
 Our car is just over the bridge!!!


  1. You are a hard core adventurer and this year is going to take you places...geographically, physically, personally...that you never dreamed of! I hate losing my climbing partner, but I'm looking forward to seeing who and what you are going to be in a year!! ����

  2. Thanks Mareshah! Come be my climbing partner on the road:)