Climbing Mountains

Sunday, September 3, 2017
Last month Mike and I spent a few days in Colorado where our family has a home in the Sangre de Cristo wilderness. It is just so amazingly beautiful there. I love waking up to the crisp, dry pine-scented air, and I love sharing my morning coffee and cereal with a friendly pack of mule deer. It is such a peaceful place - it is good for the soul.

Love this panoramic of Venable Lake 

The Sangre de Cristo mountains are truly majestic in this area, and Mike and I have discovered we both really love hiking. Last summer we hiked to Comanche Lake, a beautiful alpine lake, that sits right under Comanche Peak. As we sat at the lake, Mike and I stared up at Comanche Peak and its neighboring peak, Venable, and talked about how close we were. It wouldn't have taken us too much longer to make it up to the peak.  We had friends waiting back at the cabin though, so we promised to tackle a longer, more challenging hike the next summer.

So, this summer we decided to do the Venable-Comanche loop. The loop is a 12 mile hike that will take you up the side of Venable Peak (13,334') across a daunting ledge known as Phantom Terrace, and then down the side of Comanche Peak (13,227').

Mike at the top of the Venable-Comanche Loop - looking at Spring Mt. 

I would like to preface this by noting that I have an EXTREME fear of heights, so the fact that we set out to conquer Phantom Terrace was probably not the best decision we've ever made. But I was excited about hiking together and looking forward to the awesome views, and I thought, "How bad could it be?" I was feeling up to the challenge. The hike was exhausting, exhilarating, and emotionally the most challenging thing I have ever done.

Enjoying the view from the top! 

Phantom Terrace was intense. I was forced to face my fear of heights head on. This part of the trail gets its name because it is almost impossible to see unless you're right there. It is less "trail" and more ledge on the side of the mountain.

Can you spot the trail? Exactly. 

Some parts of the trail are just inches wide and the drop down is harrowing to say the least. I had a full on panic attack and started crying. I really didn't think I could move, or even get off the terrace. Looking down literally made me fear for my life. I have never been that scared before. Mike was so very kind and he coached me along, asked if I was okay, and checked to see if I wanted to turn around. (Go back down this? It took us close to an hour but the feeling of finally making it off the terrace was the most exhilarating thing ever. You come up and over and all of a sudden you're on top of the mountain. It was amazing. I felt like crying all over again. This is a pretty good video of what it looks like to finish up the last few feet of the terrace.

The six hour, 12-mile hike took us along some of the most beautiful trails I have ever been on and the views from the top of the Venable-Comanche loop were truly awe inspiring. We were able to see the back side of the Sangres into New Mexico, and had a pretty awesome view of the treacherous Crestone Needle.

We did it!

What a view!
Conquering Phantom Terrace felt especially satisfying as this past year has seemed to be filled with mountains and challenges that I haven't been able to tackle. Pushing past exhaustion and facing a very real fear head on while clinging to a ledge on Phantom Terrace was a cathartic experience that I needed to have. It felt good to push past fear, plenty of tears, and difficulties and finally be on top of that mountain. Struggling with infertility this past year has been filled with disappointments, challenges and situations where the answer has seemed to always be a "no." Climbing the loop and Phantom Terrace felt like a big, "Yes, I can" to everything that's gone on this past year.

Because of my terrible fear of heights, I truly didn't think I would ever do something like Phantom Terrace, and while up there I again thought, "This isn't going to happen." But it did - we did it, I did it, and I totally fought through it. I am trying to remember this experience as I head into year two of infertility. Like Phantom Terrace, parts of it have been terrifying, some has been frustrating, and most of it has just plain sucked. I have tried to be brave most of the time, but other times I have sat down and just bawled my eyes out. But Phantom Terrace reminded me that amazing things are possible - even if they aren't always easy to get to. The view at the top was absolutely beautiful and I felt grateful to be there. I thanked God for the amazing view, the incredible experience, and the wonderful husband who had been with me the entire way.

I know this next year will still be a long, hard journey with many more mountains to climb. But I'm going to try to remember how brave I was on Phantom Terrace and how I felt as I climbed on my hands and knees to the top. Life isn't always easy but sometimes it's the fight, and the climb that makes it all worth it.

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard see, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."  Matthew 17:20

3 comments on "Climbing Mountains "
  1. You ARE brave, cousin. We will be praying for you guys for sure.

    1. Thank you so much, Victoria! That means a lot. We appreciate it. ❤️

  2. i like the climing sport and i will join the climbing courses. thank for sharing the more information of climbing sports and technique.


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