Mountains, mountains, mountains…they are EVERYWHERE out here! The other day I climbed one, albeit in a car, that you have all heard of. Yes, folks, I climbed Pike’s Peak–to the summit, which is over 14, 000 ft, and I experienced every one of those feet.
It was exciting at the bottom. I took pictures and contemplated the climb–good to go. Sunny day, it all looked great. Handsome Husband was driving-he’s a good driver, nothing to worry about. We got about halfway up and stopped at a little store to take a break. (It takes about an hour to get to the summit). In that charming little store was a t-shirt that said “you know you’re climbing PP when….you are sitting closer to your spouse than you’ve sat since your second date….or when you are frantically calling friends and family on your cell phone, as you ascend, saying your goodbyes…” It went on, but you catch my drift. Here’s a thought for all of you–when you see a t-shirt that says you survived something and has such things written on it–PAY ATTENTION! I didn’t, and blithely returned to the car to continue the ride. Well, the road started twisting and turning–that old switchback thing, hairpin turns, narrow lanes. It was only a 2 lane road, and people coming down seemed to tend to be over too close to our side of the road. The reason this bothered me is that on MY side, the passenger side, there was NOTHING but a 1.000 ft drop-no guardrails (not that they would have helped). I was practically in Handsome Husband’s lap, just as the t-shirt predicted, and he, bless his heart, was patting me on the knee to soothe me, at which point I wanted to just scream at him to keep his hands ON the wheel and for god’s sake, move more to the left with the car! And this wasn’t as bad as it got–the paved road then ENDED and we were on dirt! Do you know how easily a car can skid on dirt? I couldn’t close my eyes-it only made it worse, so I just kept my eyes down and covered and tried not to throw up. It was hair-raising, folks, and I am still alive to tell you about it, thank goodness! Also, just as the t-shirt promised, I was texting frantically to one of my angel sisters in NJ–telling her thank you for being in my life and asking her to please remember me to all of my friends if I didn’t make it–which seemed an absolute possibility most of the time! We finally arrived at the top, I don’t know how, and the wind was blowing to beat the band. Down below it had been in the 90’s-up here it was 44 degrees with a snowfield. Lately I have been sincerely making the attempt, and succeeding for the most part, in not drinking diet pepsi, and eating in a more healthy manner. But I’ve got to tell you, between being completely shaken up by the upward ascent, and being grateful to still be alive, I treated myself to some caramels, (at $5.00/bag) thinking to chew them on the way down and avert some anxiety, and sucked down a diet pepsi as if it was 100 proof! It was truly splendid up there-you could see, as the song says, for miles and miles and miles. Gorgeous, spectacular, you say the descriptive word, and it was. But most of the time I was contemplating our DESCENT, and I wasn’t contemplating it in a happy way….dread is the word that comes to mind.
Well, we finally did start down, and there was a handy little sign saying “don’t ride your brakes” but nothing else. There was a required stop at a ranger station not too far down, where I found out why you don’t ride the brakes. The ranger measured the temp of our brakes-a good temp would have been in the low 100’s. Ours was 300+, and she suggested in a completely friendly but official manner that we rest our car for the next 1/2 hour. Which we did, and once we started, the next friendly sign said “hot brakes are failed brakes” . Had to stop one more time on the way down–I could smell the heat. Just when I thought we were through the worst of it, height wise, another switchback, another death fall to the side–I never thought we’d get to the bottom! But all good things must come to an end, and just when I was totally exhausted from anxiety, we hit solid land, the brakes were intact, though we probably used up two months worth of them while doing the up and down. You ask again, and so do I–WHY do I continue climbing rocks, ascending mountains on foot and in cars, when I am so fearful of heights? Just what am I trying to prove? Maybe I don’t want to appear chicken, either to Handsome Husband or myself–don’t know. So is that the LAST time I do such a thing? I’d like to say yes, but I’d be lying.
Tomorrow we are heading for Utah, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and I KNOW I’m going to be horrified beyond belief–but Handsome Husband is going, and I’m going with him. Will Alison finally learn her lesson and stay on low ground? Don’t hold your breath.