Pikes Peak is ‘My Mountain’ (KRCC)

*Note: This audio essay was broadcast on KRCC/NPR on July 13, 2020. The audio link can be found here, and the text remarks can be found below.

***

Pikes Peak’s our North Star.

It’s always there. The light on top even looks like a star.

We use it to find our way when we get lost.

And it put my life back on track.

***

Twelve years ago, after brutal personal failures—an important relationship and dropping out of law school—I had a quarter-life crisis.

So I ran the Marathon. The way out of my life’s ditch was to climb up. Toward the finish, this lightning bolt hit me. I cried. It was this insight–like, “if I can run this thing, I can get past anything.”

***

It was a turning point – I was down, I came back up. Later, my family and I moved to Manitou, a mile from the mountain.

Coming back to Pikes Peak also brought me to Dr. Edwin James. 200 years ago this week…on July 14, 1820… this 22-year-old from Vermont, made the first recorded successful ascent of Pikes Peak  (or any other 14er) as part of a scientific expedition to the West.

On the Expedition, James discovered the Rocky Mountain Columbine…our state flower… near what is now Palmer Lake. Later in life, he ran a station on the Underground Railroad in southeast Iowa.

***

Whether it’s the mountain itself or the trailblazers that climbed before, Pikes Peak is my mountain because it’s where I look for the way forward.

 

 

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