Before I climbed Pikes Peak, everyone I knew who had already accomplished this task told me I would never look at the mountain the same again.
And it's so true. I can see the Peak from the street outside my house and when I'm fully present to looking at it, all I can think right now is: "I climbed you!"
I know what it's like to wake up really early, see the sunrise from near your base, and steadily trudge along your trails.
I know what it's like to eat lunch at 9am (second breakfast, really) at your half-way mark of Barr Camp, watch birds land in my friend's palm to grab granola bites, and feed chipmunks peanuts from my trail mix. And I know what it's like to be so, so happy to see a box of help-yourself Nilla Wafers ... and a toilet.
I know what it's like, around your nine-mile-point, to ask my hiking companion to tell me a story because my legs (and my mind) are starting to give out.
I know what it's like to have her tell me in your last two miles that we were in the "no-sit zone." I could pause among your rocks as much as I wanted to breathe or drink water, but sitting was not allowed.
I know what it's like to want to throw up for those same two miles — thanks to altitude sickness, the longest miles of my hiking life so far.
And I know what it's like to reach the top, almost 14 miles from our starting point, to see tourists milling around who'd either driven up or taken the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and think, "Could everyone please be quiet? I just hiked this effing 14er."
Two weeks have passed since that day. Between then and now I travelled back home to attend my grandfather's funeral and, on return, tried to get back into the swing of daily life.
But something inside of me has changed. It's going to take more processing of the experience to be able to put words to it, but I can feel it.
I climbed a mountain. And it feels good.