In my last two posts (9/29 and 10/6) I have been describing our summer climb up one of Colorado’s intrepid “14ers”, peaks in excess of 14,000 feet above sea level. We had climbed Mt. Shavano at 14,229 feet and finally reached the summit, then headed down due to storms threatening to move in. The descent felt as endless as the ascent. Ryan again took the lead and was soon out of sight. We encountered a young couple from the flatlands of Texas who had only arrived in Colorado the day before. They inquired about the weather at the top. We filled them in, then suggested they wait for another day. Aside from the potential storm, climbing with less than a day to acclimate to the altitude is asking for altitude sickness. They decided to camp for the night and attempt their ascent the next day. As a mother, I was very relieved!
We retraced our steps, down the boulder pile, which was as challenging to descend as it was to ascend. Down the trail skirting the side of the mountain; down through the forest and finally, back down to where the cattle were grazing at the trailhead. At this point, we were both complaining of soreness in our knees and were ready for the hike to end. Ryan had headed off without taking the car keys with him as he usually remember to do, so he was throwing a stick in the trailhead parking lot for Annie in the hour he was waiting for us to arrive. But all were in good spirits as we drove back down the rutted road at 15 miles per hour.
But, alas, our challenges were not over for the day. We finally hit the state highway and were cruising at 55 miles per hour, when we heard a sharp “pop!”, then a hiss. Terry pulled over, only to watch our passenger side front tire deflate. We had run over a nail or something that had left a large hole in the tire. Once the jack and spare were unloaded and lugnuts removed (a process that had taken in excess of 30 minutes!), Terry went to pull the tire off and could not get it to budge. He and Ryan struggled with it for nearly half hour and we were about to give up and call a wrecker, when Ryan made several hard, well-placed kicks to the tire and it began to give. They were finally able to get it off, replace it with the spare and we were on our way again. The tire had taken about an hour and a half to fix, but we were pleased to be moving and to have avoided the cost of the wrecker.
We reached New Mexico at 7:35 that evening after a very long day and finally arrived home just over an hour later, exhausted. As all we had had to eat was an apple and some energy replacement gel during the hike, we were famished and threw a pizza in the oven. In spite of the difficulties, it had been a good day, but it sure felt good to lay down when we finally turned in around 11:00 pm. Two days later, we took Ryan to the airport so he could fly back to college to start the fall semester of his senior year. I can’t wait for his next visit; adventure is always around the corner when he is with us!
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