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When I first started climbing 14ers, I always wanted to beat everyone in front of me. I wanted to get up and down the mountain as fast as I could, never really enjoying anything the mountain had to offer. I never stopped to look at the flowers or smell the bark of a tree or just to take a 2 minute rest. After racing both up and down the mountain many times, feeling really bad the whole way and not having any fun whatsoever, I finally decided I was going to try one where:

  • I wasn’t going to race anyone
  • I wasn’t going to worry about my time
  • I was going to open my eyes and ears to what the mountain had to show me

and it was amazing…the things I saw and heard. I would tell Jeff, “Look at the flowers. Did you smell the bark of this tree? Look at that fat marmot.” I even talked to a pika. I felt really stupid that I had missed all this on my first 14ers but after that experience I never again worried if anyone passed me or what my time was. I was going to enjoy myself and feel good when I got back to the car.

I have a little ritual I do on the top of every 14er summit. First I find a little spot on top so I can be by myself (easy to do when there is not one else there). I take out a picture I keep in my backpack of my great grandmother my grandmother my mother and myself. I look at it and remember the women who were part of my life and who taught me anything is possible with hard work and determination. I believe these women are the ones who made it possible for me to follow my dreams. I will always want them to be part of my journeys. And I believe they’re right by my side on these mountains encouraging me on. I am a strong woman thanks to the strong women before me.

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