We decided that our summer vacation would be Winter Park, Colorado, one of the highest communities in the state. I love the first reaction the boys had to the Rocky Mountains. At first the mountains appeared to be mirages on the horizons, barely visible through the misty rain. The clouds parted as we left Denver and the sun shown on the peaks, revealing patches of snow. As the men in the car were busy making plans on which mountain peak they would summit, I began to feel that gnawing pang of fear in the pit of my stomach. I was terrified of heights and I could only imagine what a drive to the summit of one of those mountains would be like.
My men decided on Mount Evans, which boasts the highest paved passenger route in North America at 14130 feet above sea level. It is just 20 feet higher than the famous Pikes Peak and not nearly as “touristy”. Fear wanted me to stay home but my love for my family won out and I joined them for this adventure. The drive up the mountain was the most terrifying drive I have ever experienced. Every hairpin turn looked like we would fall off the mountain, and I prayed feverishly at each one “Please no cars!” On one of the final turn to the summit we encountered a herd of mountain goats, in the middle of the narrow road and we had to ease the car around them to continue our climb.
Once at the highest point we could go with a car, we exited the car and the boys took off up a trail to take them a hundred feet higher to the summit. My husband and I felt the full impact of the change in altitude. I understand the term “breath-taking” for it was – literally. We made our way to the lookout’s edge and the view was like nothing I have ever experienced. I was at the same height as a single rain cloud raining somewhere miles away. I grabbed the rail and braved a glance down to the valley, I could see ant like cars crawling up the road. I eased back slightly from the rail and returned my gaze upon the view. My husband put his arm around me and we stood there in awe of the beauty. It was a beauty that touched my soul and a vision that will forever live in my memory. I tried to capture the moment with my camera, but it did not do it justice. The experience is hard to express with a flat picture and even harder still with words.
The drive down was much more bearable. My fear was under control and I was able to sneak peeks of the panoramic views. I marvel at how calm I was and I wonder if it was because I survived the drive up. Whatever the reason, I felt empowered with my fear under control and joined my family in their enthusiasm.
We pulled off to explore an area at a lower elevation and I was able to look up at the summit we just visited. Looking up at the massive mountain and it’s snow speckled peak gleaming in the sun was an impressive sight, but no comparison to what I experience at the top of it. Fear can keep me on the sidelines, but my soul longs for the experiences. Many times I let fear dictate where I am going – but not this time. This time I did not allow fear to drive.