Several weeks ago, I went hiking up in the beautiful Rocky Mountains not far from my home. It was a beautiful day for it, and even just the drive up to the trailhead was pretty impressive. I had picked this particular trail myself so I also had a vested interest in it living up to my expectations. I wanted something without a lot of people, challenging without being ridiculous, and with a great payoff. So, it was pretty encouraging when our drive to the trailhead turned into what could only be called a two-lane road by one of those “World’s Most Dangerous Highways” drivers, with cars parked on any available stretch of the dirt road that might accommodate them.
We passed several other trailheads along the way and with each one my anticipation grew. By the time we got to the end of the road, I was more than ready. And so was my car thanks to the rally-course that passed for a road. There were even very few cars parked in the lot, so one requirement down. We got out, checked the map, made sure the map on my cell was reading correctly, and set off. After a brief detour down a path that was decidedly NOT the trail, we were climbing up switchbacks on our way up Raspberry Mountain.
It didn’t take too long for us to realize that this definitely also checked the box of being challenging. Now, if you’re not aware, there is an “attraction” near Colorado Springs called The Incline. Which is a very deceiving name because it implies a gentle stroll up a hill covered in grass and wildflowers. But no, the incline is a torture device built into the side of a mountain. A long time ago it used to be a railway that literally climbed up the side of Pikes Peak (there’s a new one now, very fun). But all that’s left now are the railroad ties. And people climb these. According to the site, there are 2,744 of these ties. And it’s only 1 mile of travel horizontally. Not too bad, right, except that there is a 2,000′ elevation climb. That means an average “incline” of 41 degrees. And people do this for fun!
Anyway, this trail wasn’t that bad. But it did get pretty bad. Especially toward the end. And we were tempted to give up a couple times. Personally, I had just about had it by the time we got to this pile of boulders near the top. There was a good view, and I was beat, so I figured I’d just sit down, catch my breath, and congratulate myself. But no. My wife found another “trail” that climbed that giant pile of boulders. And so, after much arguing, I pulled myself up and followed.
And man was I glad I did. The view from atop those boulders (the actual peak at 10,605′) was nothing short of breathtaking. Here are a few pictures to prove it in case you didn’t see them on my Facebook. In the third you can actually see Pikes Peak in the distance.
We had lunch up there, made friends with some chipmunks, and headed down. Which was obviously MUCH easier. But all the way down I couldn’t stop thinking about that view, and what I would have missed if I’d just let myself be satisfied with the mediocre view I’d found. And, of course, this made me think of my writing, and other people’s writing. Writing is hard. Any dream is hard. But, as I tell my kids, all of the things worth doing, are hard. And it’s easy to get to a point where we feel we’ve done ok. We haven’t really gotten where we wanted, but we have a view, and it’s nice, and we’re just tired of how hard it’s all been.
But who knows. Maybe if we just push a little bit more, try one more time, or take on that next challenge, we could be greeted by a view that makes all of that work so worth it. I don’t know what that would look like for me, I don’t have bestsellers list ambitions, but I’m curious to find out.