The Mountains Win Again

Call me a mountain man, well a mountain man who lives in the city, likes to shower every day, and keep a clean shaven face.  But call me a mountain man anyway.  My heart swells at the sight of the Rocky Mountains.  Maybe it’s because I lived in Vail, Colorado for seven years, or maybe it’s because I’m a Colorado native who grew up in hot, flat, Oklahoma.  My love for the mountains just must be in my blood.

My family has always held the mountains in a special place.  Back in the 90’s when we were still living in flatlander Tulsa, Oklahoma, my family went on a mission trip to Costa Rica.  As we were driving through the cloud forest in the mountains someone mentioned  Psalm 121, you know, the one about mountains and how awesome they are and how our help comes from them.  Ever since then I’ve had a strong connection between God and the mountains.

I came home from Costa Rica with a love for the mountains in my heart and a passion for God in my soul.  That short week is why I eventually moved to Guatemala.  Heck, I even lived in the mountains while in Guatemala.  There’s just something about the mountains.

A couple of weeks ago something major happened for my family in the mountains.  My sister, Emmy, decided to have my dad baptize her in Piny Lake.

Emmy led our family over to Piney Lake as the sun crept over the majestic Gore Range.  The morning was warm, but the water was cold.  My dad spoke confidently, saying:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm —
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Emmy turned her eyes to the mountains and made a statement that she would always look to the Lord for help.  The Gore Range and Piney Lake will never be the same for me.  When I think of them I will think of how great my God is and how He saves us.

What do you see when you look up to the mountains?  I’m always reminded of how much God loves me.  That is why the mountains always win.

What To Do In The Happiest Place On Earth

Fulford, Colorado is the happiest place on Earth.  At least that’s what my friends call it, and I tend to agree with them.  And I am lucky enough to have friends who own a cabin in the happiest place on Earth.

This little mountain community is ten miles up into the White River National Forest just below New York mountain, away from any type of civilization.  No cellphones, no tv’s, and no computers.   You couldn’t even read my blog if you wanted to.  Well, I guess some cabins up there have satalite dishes, but I sure don’t go up to the cabin to stay connected to the world.

Yes, Fulford is great for hiking, fishing, and star gazing, all great things to do in the mountains, but I love Fulford because it is a great place to relax.  Whenever my family is able to stay at the cabin, we set aside any agenda.  If we want to wake up early and go for a walk, we do it.  If we sleep in and then relax on the couches drinking coffee or hot chocolate, we do that.

Fulford is not a place for the busy lifestyle.  Last week in my blog, I wrote about how we need to slow down as we experience life.   Fulford is a place that forces you to slow down.  While I was up there this weekend, I finished the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes (of which I had been reading on and off for three years) took a hike, and napped.

If you really want to know what to do in the mountains, follow my advice.  Find a quite spot, in a cabin, or in a tent, and read.  Read until your eyes are too heavy and then take a nap.  God wants us to relax.  If we are always on the go we wont have enough concentration and energy to notice him.

I’ve been trying to live spiritually this year, and sometimes I forget that God just wants me.  He doesn’t want me to do anything special, yes it was fun hiking Mt. Elbert, but he would rather have me.  And that takes some quiet time.  That is why Fulford is the happiest place on Earth.  It takes you away from every modern comfort and forces you slow down.  And I find when I am living slowly I feel more complete.

I hope everyone is able to go on a vacation this summer, short or long, heck Fulford was just a weekend trip, and is able to relax.  If you haven’t found time to get up into the mountains or some other quiet spot, then turn off your computer and power down all of your other distractions, ’cause God wants you to have some time with just Him.

Rams, Super Chivos, and Waterton Canyon

Colorado is a pretty amazing place to live, and like Ferris Bueller said, “life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

This year I’ve been trying to live spiritually, which means slowing down so I don’t miss anything.  Especially anything God has for me here in Colorado (Because that’s where I live so it’s best to open my eyes to what God has for me in my home state).

The other week, during the first week in June, something out of the ordinary happened and I was blessed enough to see witness it.

On June first, I went biking up Waterton Canyon in South West Denver.  Waterton Canyon had been closed for the last two years, so I was pretty excited to be able go for a ride up the road next to the Platte River.  On my way up the trail I came across a heard of Rams.  It was amazing, but a couple came a little too close for comfort.

As I stood by my bike taking pictures, a couple of bikers slowed down to look, but then sped off.  It was as if they had seen such puny wildlife before.  Maybe this was special to me because I hadn’t been biking in Colorado in almost two years, but maybe it meant more to me because I went on the ride with my eyes open.  I wanted to see what God had for me.

I could’ve stayed home and not gone on the ride.  My bike was broken and I knew I would have to borrow a girl’s cruiser bike to be able to even go on the ride.  I was tired and would have enjoyed a nap.  But living spiritually means getting out on the trail even when it means a difficult ride.

Living spiritually means stopping and watching God’s wildlife, trusting that He’s in control.  Those rams were wild and I’m lucky they didn’t decide to fight my bike.  Or maybe I’m blessed to live in Colorado where I can see God’s wild creation if I just open my eyes.

What have you seen lately?  Are you biking right past the rams or are you living a little more like Ferris Bueller?

Don’t miss the life God’s given you.  Join my dad, Eugene Scott, and me as we look for the amazing in our daily lives.  Start living spiritually with us.

Some of you might be wondering what a Super Chivo is.  Well in English, it is a Super Ram, which is the mascot for Xela’s soccer team.  And it so happens that I was wearing my Xelaju soccer jersey on the ride and so maybe the ram didn’t ram me because I am a Super Chivo!

My Adventure up Mt. Elbert

The Wakeup Call

“Good morning, Sally.  I’ll be right out.  I just woke up and I need to shower.”  It was 3:44am and my brain was having a hard time registering the voice at the other end of the phone.  The caller ID said, “Sally,” but it sure sounded like a man.  “We’ll wait for you outside,” replied Cliff Hutchison.

Fortunately, I had packed all of my gear the night before, which made waking up five minutes before the estimated departure time a little easier.  It’s still not a great idea to wake up minutes before driving three hours into the mountains for a hike, especially Mt. Elbert.

The Mountain

Located in Lake County about 10 miles southwest of Leadville, Colorado in the Sawatch Range, Mt. Elbert climbs all the way up to 14,433 feet tall, but I’ve heard unofficially that it is 14,440.  Either way, it’s the tallest mountain in Colorado, and the second tallest in all of the continental United States, making it a formable hiking foe.

The Trailhead

My alarm’s little stunt didn’t slow us down.  We made it all the way from Denver to the Half Moon trailhead in two hours.  Showered in golden sunlight, our feet hit the trail at 6:30am.  We’d been warned not to start later than 5:30 if we wanted to summit before 12.  It’s always a good idea to summit before noon, because after noon the weather can get really crappy.  However, being young and strong and athletic and confident and amazing, we didn’t listen to that advice.

The Trail

The Northeast Ridge trail of Mt. Elbert is listed on 14ers.com as an easy hike.  I think what they mean by easy is at no point do you have to scale the cliffs of insanity, swim through eel infested waters, or battle R.O.U.S’s.  

The hike might be easy to the avid hiker, but if you haven’t hiked a 14er before, or if you don’t hike much, I would suggest not starting out with Mt. Elbert.  He’s a beast of a mountain.  We took the standard route, which starts you out on the Colorado Trail.  Taking this route will only give you a 4,700 feet of elevation gain.  Easy.

The Wind

The only bad part about the day, other than my alarm trying to keep me from breathing the thinnest air in Colorado, was the wind.  Zane, the only one on our team who had hiked Mt. Elbert before had said something like, “you can’t even feel the wind up at the top because the air is so thin.”  However, on our way up the trail, through the pine trees that dot their way along the Colorado Trail, the wind bit at our noses.  Even though the first part of the trail was steep, we all trekked on together.  Hiking is more fun when you have a group to traverse and converse with.

We split up a little once we made it past tree-line, which is where the wind got really nasty.  AJ, our youngest hiker, and his dad made it a little more than half way, but decided not to summit.  I’m guessing because the wind was too much.

“That Zane Gordon is full of . . .” The wind blew Andrew’s words away.  Andrew is a giant of a man, and as we climbed past the first false summit even his six foot seven inch frame bowed to the power of the wind.  With the wind pushing against us, we kept trudging further up and further in.

The False Summits

As bad as the wind was, the worst part of the hike were the false summits, which were demoralizing.  My body had geared up for the finish, I’d even started to push a little harder because I knew I was almost done.  But then I came to the crest of the peak and the mountain had grown, we’d reached the first false summit.  Mt. Elbert is the tallest peak in Colorado for a reason.

As the rest of our team pushed for the summit I noticed Andrew and Tim slowing down.  I’ve climbed a couple big peaks and know that there’s no shame in slowing down, not sprinting up to the top (the word sprint used here to mean walked uphill at a steady gate).

Sticking with Andrew and Tim was the best part of hiking.  I came on the trip to hike with my friends, rather than coming to take off and reach the summit all by myself.  As we slowed down I kept track of time so we would not miss our window of opportunity to reach the summit before the wind blew in the bad weather.

What I didn’t realize was that the mountain was playing tricks on us.  As we crested the second false summit, I could tell my estimated time of arrive was way off.  At the speed we were going we had another hour at least.

Undeterred, I picked out rocks a good distance ahead of us, setting that as our goal to reach before we took our next break.  At each rock I encouraged Tim and Andrew, reminding them that they were doing a great job. Rock by rock we inched closer to the summit.  Or the third false summit.

I was annoyed.  I wanted to reach the top, be able to take pictures as a group, but I also wanted to take a break.  My legs were burning almost as much as my lungs.

I was also sick of criss-crossing with other hikers.  Passing them only to be re-passed.  As we stood at the top of the third false summit, looking up at the real peak, I looked at Andrew and Tim and said “lets go!”  I wanted this hike done.

The Summit

When I thought I couldn’t climb any higher, I was there.  Summiting was a glorious experience.  I reached the top of Colorado and quickly found shelter from the wind.  Not long after, Tim set foot on the summit, with Andrew just behind.  As the two topped off Colorado’s highest peak I jumped up from my spot tucked away from the wind to give them high fives.  Both guys shouted with joy, which wasn’t very loud because it takes having air in your lungs to shout.  Andrew was nearly in tears.  He said this about his experience of summiting, “I felt like I was a zombie.  My legs were moving mindlessly as if something were pulling me, compelling me to reach the summit.”  I guess zombiemode is more than when someone becomes a brain eater.

I really enjoyed my own summit, but I felt true joy watching Andrew and Tim make it to the top of Mt. Elbert.  I was filled with joy because Andrew had worked so hard to climb to the top.  Hiking with friends should feel like that.

On our way down we talked about how hard the climb was.  None of us liked the false summits or the wind, but we agreed that those hardships just made the actual summit that much sweeter.  The whole hike was sweet, because it was hard and we achieved a difficult goal with friends.

Not an R.O.U.S.