Let me share an adventure that involved an Ironman triathlete, my dad, and 2 post collegiate runners, Jorge and myself.
We saw a mountain we wanted to summit, decided to run it, almost died twice on the way down, and came out on the other side humbled and grateful.
We found ourselves spent on the Colorado mountain summit.
Bushwhacking, the high altitude, and the long hike/run climb up the mountain had depleted our energy, water, and nutrition snacks. We underestimated how difficult and how long it would take to complete this adventure. The truth is we only really thought about the summit but never really thought about the descent.
Once we had finished enjoying the birds eye view from the mountain tops we decided to go down a different route that seemed to be faster.
Looks can be deceiving. This got us into trouble.
As we hiked and climbed down the mountain we were blocked off by some thick shrubs that steeply went down the face of the mountain. We decided to bushwhack through them. When we finally broke through the shrubs and were met with the edge of a cliff.
Climbing up was wasn’t really an option because of the steep mountain face and dense bushes.
What do we do now?
We looked all around and to the left there was an 7-8 inch ledge that traversed about 20 yards to a tree that we could climb down and resume our hiking. I know the ledge was about 7-8 inches because I wear a size 9 shoe and I remember my heels hanging off the edge as I side stepped across the ledge facing the wall. As I write this I still recall the vigilance we had to use to take each step across that ledge. No safety gear, just the “survival death grip”. We cautiously inched our way to the end and climbed down a tree safely.
At the bottom we all took a deep breath in relief.
We made it down with our life and no injuries.
The hike down continued.
Eventually we came to an ice patch about 150 m long going downhill. We thought we’d speed our decent by sliding down the ice patch. Not the best idea but it seems we were on a roll with making poor decisions.
My father looked at the ice and said, “let me go first and I’ll let you know if it is ok to go”. The second he got on the ice his body slid uncontrolled across the ice. Luckily he slid sideways for about 10 yds into some rocks that stopped him. The impact of his body slamming into the rocks made some rocks break free and slide down the ice slide. Those rocks smashed hard into the rocky field at the bottom. God was definitely watching over us. Had we gone down we would have ended up like those rocks and been seriously injured.
This was the second time we stared death in the face.
After 5 hours of running, hiking, traversing, and adventuring we emerged from the woods onto a road, dehydrated, battered, and exhausted. We eventually found our way home from that road. Once home, we licked our wounds, rested, and the next day had a new story of adventure with many lessons we could take.
Here are 4 lessons I took from this adventure.
- Stick together as a team. When we summited that mountain and saw the majesty all around us we were entranced. My father and I wanted to run the ridge of the adjacent mountain ranges. Luckily for us my friend Jorge saved us with the voice of reason. He didn’t feel comfortable going on because we weren’t prepared for it. He was right. We didn’t have the knowledge of the area, enough water or nutrition, nor enough time to complete it all during daylight. If it had only been my father and I on the mountain summit we would have put ourselves in a bad place. I am not sure I would be sharing this story.
- Obstacles/challenges reveal. When put under extreme situations you will meet the raw and real you. This is good. Knowing who you are is important to progressing. I remember that adventure really sparked a love for nature and knowledge of the mountains. I realized I wasn’t prepared so I started doing research to improve my chances at pushing my limits in future adventures.
- Nature is life. Nature is a constant microcosm and macrocosm of life. It shows you that the essentials of life are air, water, nutrition, sun, and community. If we practice filling our lives with those key ingredients, life thrives, life becomes vibrant.
- Prepare. We were 3 Miami natives (flat-landers) with minimal mountain and outdoor experience. We had no map nor any real idea of what we needed or what it would take to do an adventure like this. We were very lucky that we made it out with our lives and injury free.
Have you ever been on an adventure that revealed how unprepared you were?
If yes, what have you done as a result of that experience to ensure that you are more prepared for your next adventure?