My feet ached, my knees hurt, and my heart was throbbing. Every dozen steps higher I had to pause to let my breathing catch up. I didn’t mind the pauses. They gave me the chance to appreciate where I was.
The morning sun was coloring the mountain tops with red and gold. Aspen and pine trees lined the valley below. Above me were alpine fields made green by the melting snow. Around me were waterfalls, bubbling streams, spring flowers, and cool mountain meadows.
It seemed like a good opportunity to enjoy God’s creation. Jonathan was off to camp. We had just finished his college enrollment. David was attending an out-of-town conference. I couldn’t help Martha with her driving until her course certificate came in. I had nothing on my schedule. So why not take a quick trip to Colorado to enjoy hiking in the outdoors as I did when I was younger…much younger.
I heard footsteps behind me. “Good morning. How’s it going?” inquired a fellow hiker, about in his mid 30's.
“I think age has caught up with me,” I replied. “I’m having to take it kinda slow. I’m probably not used to the altitude.”
“Yea, that can be an issue,” he said as he bounded swiftly on ahead of me. “Have a good one.”
I thought about the hike I did yesterday. Fourteen miles round trip; 4,400 feet elevation gain. I had hiked to Engineer Pass at 12,800 feet. The Bear Creek Trail was one of the few National Recreation Trails noted for its exceptional beauty. Sweeping vistas, luscious forests, deep canyons, cliff hanging trails, awesome waterfalls, the scenery was unmatched.
But the abuse I gave this old body to get me up to the Pass and back was also unmatched. The final set of switchbacks that returned me to the trailhead had left my right knee pounding with pain. I was a fool to think I could do another hike the next day.
So here I was, the next day, doing another hike. My legs and lungs were scolding me all the way. I reached the base of the mountain I wanted to climb – Mt. Sneffles. But I barely had enough sense to know my knee was not up to the pounding it would receive climbing down those rocks. So, at noon time, I headed back down the trail, taking baby steps to minimize the stress on my knee.
I heard footsteps behind me. “How’s it going there?” It was my fellow hiker from earlier in the day.
“I’m having to take it easy; my knee is giving me trouble. Did you make it to the summit?”
The hiker gleamed, “Yea, it was a decent walk to the base and then a rock scramble to the top. I’m planning on doing a few more climbs this summer.”
“Wow! That’s great.” I was envious. “I did a lot of climbing when I was younger. But I guess those days are behind me.”
“Yea, I know it will happen to me someday, too,” he sympathized. “That’s why I’m doing as much as I can now. Well, take care.” He galloped on down the trail kicking dust as I continued my baby-steps.
Back at the car, I collapsed in the front seat, groaning as I rubbed my aching legs. On the way back home, I pulled off 5 times at rest stops to sleep. Evidently my body needed some serious healing time. I reckon I ain’t a youngster anymore!