Sunday, July 13, 2008

Horn Peak (13,428 ft)

My family and I just returned from a fabulous week at Horn Creek camp in Westcliffe, Colorado (just south of Colorado Springs). We took our vacation there last summer and couldn't wait to get back. We had the blessing of 4 other church families going this year as well.

Hiking is my favorite activity while at Horn Creek. The camp sits below Horn Peak, last year I vowed to get in good enough shape to climb it. I knew the challenge would be largely physical, however on the psychological side- I'm pretty scared of heights. On Tuesday of this past week, Shari and I climbed to the top. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Horn Peak is in the Sangre De Christo mountain range. While not a famed "14er", it's a very good challenge to climb. Here are some pictures of our journey below. The first is during the ascent through the Aspen trees.

After reaching treeline, the ascent is fast. Here we're trudging up the last section with grass. The last 1000 feet or so are rock. We're at 12,000 ft in this picture. That means 5 steps up, gasp for air, 5 more steps, etc. It took us 5 hours to climb 4500 feet from camp to the summit. The last 1000 feet took an hour and a half! I was glad to have been jogging in preparation, I would have surely keeled over otherwise.

In what can only be described as a "pentecostal moment" (for a Presbyterian anyways), I was about ready to find a way to quit (did I mention I'm scared of heights?) as we ascended the "false summit" (a peak just below the main peak), when I said to God- "Please Lord, don't let me quit now". Just then, a beautiful Mule Deer appeared just 25 yards in front of me. He stared at me as if to say- "come on wimp...get up this mountain". Obviously I cannot say for certain that God sent that Muley to motivate me, but the notion can't be completely ruled out either. It wasn't like a mangy dog showed up, it was a over 12,000 feet...well within bow range no less! I took it as a sign and gathered strength to get to the 12,600 ft. false peak.

Below is a picture of us resting on the false peak. Splendid view for sure. Shari is wearing the pink hat and I'm in the red warm up. I actually packed 4 shirts. I sweated like a pig up to treeline, then the temp dropped off dramatically and got pretty cool at the top.

Here's a good picture of Shari and I making our way from the false peak to the summit. Nothing but rock climbing for the last 800 feet.

Wow. Reaching the summit brings an indescribable feeling. Did I mention how I am scared of heights? God gave me special grace in this area as I felt pretty good psychologically.

Climbing Horn Peak was one of the hardest physical feats of my life. I have a new found respect for people who climb mountains on a regular basis. I can't think of too many activities that are more challenging.
For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind,and declares to man what is his thought,who makes the morning darkness,and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name! (Amos 4:13)


Derek said...

I've spent many summers there in the past, and had the pleasure of making it to the top, too. I agree with everything you're saying about it! I'd love to do it again sometime.

Phantom495 said...

Awesome! Glad you are all back safely! You should have kept the "soul patch" part of your "growth"!

Colarusso Family said...

Looks like a wonderful trip!! The pictures of the mountains are amazing! Especially behind you and Shari in that last one. Something you two will always remember! Glad you had a great time and got back home safely!
Danielle and Jeff

Rick Calohan said...

Praise God! You made it to the summit and lived to tell about minus the burning bush, white hair, and two tablets. While in Korea, I went up to the various mountains near Chuncheon.

I was stationed at Camp Page, in Chuncheon City, and I’m sure the highest of the high peeks I climbed were only 5,000 ft. It was a great source of comfort for I was surrounded by mountains, and lakes while only 16 km from the DMZ for three of my four and half years there was a time in my life that I will never forget.

I have driven through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Rockies on I-80 from Sacramento to Kansas City, heading south on I-25 from Cheyenne to Denver, then I-70 across the flint hills and wheat fields of Kansas. I have driving through the Ozark Mountains, the Smokey Mountains, and Appalachia. Flown over the Rockies, the Sierras the, Mt. McKinley, the Aleutian Island Chain, seen Mt. Fuji, and even went on a banca boat across choppy waters to get to Taal Volcano on horse back to the Taal Volcano, in the Philippines.

God’s divine providence to make us aware of His presence in creation is awesome!

sensus divinitatis = awareness of God

siemen religions = seed of religion "some knowledge of God's will."

As we recite every Lord’s Day.

Our help is in the Name of the Lord!

Who made heaven and earth!

Reepicheep said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AliGirl said...

What a great trip! Chris and I had the lovely experience of climbing Longs Peak (by Estes Park) last summer. We had only been in CO for a day and a half, but, of course, we had to be hard core and tackle the big boy...

It took us 8 hours to summit (not too far off average) and 8 hours down (because I had to stop and throw up every 10 minutes). Best and worst experience EVER.

I'm going back to Estes Monday (and leaving Chris by himself due to school!), so I'll be posting (hopefully as I go. I'm sure there'll be lots of hiking pics to come on my blog, though I'm probably not going to do Long's without my man to hold my hair back! :)

The Last Mohican said...

i have climbed fourteeners for about twenty years throughout Colorado. I have 28 of them and have reclimbed about ten of the same batch. Hiking a mountain is one of the hardest things to do. It is physically grueling and the urge to quit comes up often. But when you make the top are you in for a treat! You look down and see everything else. If I pray for God's help on the way up I certainly pray and thank Him for the beauty all around me.

I now help out my nuclear group who largely go to Colonial Presbyterian Church on their annual Men's Mountain Retreat every year in Colorado. They get 30 men up twice in two weeks and have communion as well as Bible class in the evenings. I act as a Sherpa for the novices.

I have camped at near Westcliffe in the Sangre Range. I climbed Humboldt. Kit Carson and some pretty wicked other class 4 and 5 14tnr's are around. When we did Humboldt and broke camp we started down. It immediately started raining. It worsened. In fact it became a torrential downpour.
Making it worse, the temperature dropped and also were bombarded with hail. The road was severed by the rain but we made it across. We soon became separated and just one friend was way out in front of me.
As I went down by myself, I was aware that even my rainproof jacket was wet. It was actually getting cold. Even as I worried about hyperthermia I became aware there was a pale glow around my body. I had been praying.
When I made it down to the parking lot, my friend seeing my condition told me to change my clothes for dry ones. I at that point and only then began to shiver oncontrollably. I glance up at the mountain and it was blanketed with snow! All of it.
There are many stories one can tell going up or down a mountain (saving a lost woman, getting lost with my son, hiking in rain,sleet, and snow, and being savaged by lightning). But I like the strenous exercise, the camaraderie of friends, reveling in God's creation, and accomplishing goals.

Keep climbing Tony! Perhaps one day I can help you up a fourteener!

bob ")

Reepicheep said...

Bob, Wow that's an episode! Not sure I'd like that. I'm no mountain climber, that's for sure.

Our guide told us that Humboldt is no harder than Horn Peak, so I thought I'd train and try next summer. I'm not too hung up on the "14er" thing, but it would be nice to say I did one.

Frontier Forest said...

What wonderful pictures and priceless memories! Guess it was too dangerous for the “Brothers 3 Felich?
Cheri and I too, lavished in the beauty of God’s creation with a blessed week, in the foothills of the Sangre De Cristio mountain range in Angle Fire NM. We didn’t venture with mountain climbing but what a rewarding time with 4 of our 8 grandkids! The highlight of our trip was the family talent show on the last night together! What a hoot

Last Mohican said...

Tony. The Last Mohican again. If you want to try a fourteener I would suggest Handies (near Lake City), Quandary (near Breckenridge), Grey & Torres (near Georgetown), or Elbert which is the tallest in Colorado (between Leadville and Buena Vista). Nothing but just hiking no scrambling (use of legs & arms). Nothing scary.
I like your church. I currently go to COR. Love RC Sproul. Sorry I think I am more Arminian in regard to election and predestination than Calvinist. My wife has been in Iraq for a year as a RN at a combat support hospital and we will attend some services at Redeemer when the schedule quiets down (going to Colorado 7/26 and then an cruise and hiking in Alaska the last two weeks of August.
I am sure a fourteener awaits you. Perhaps next summer. When you get to the top you will dance like David did (well not exactly as resting will seem more appropiate)!

bob ")
1 Peter 3:15

Anita said...

Hey, I am a friend of Mike O. I work with him and I am heading out to Horn Creek next week. I will be climbing Horn Peak on Thursday with my kids. The last time I did it I was 18. That was more than a few years ago almost 30. My family has been going for many years. If you stayed at Mountian Meadow you would have met my parents Don and Linda Flack (hosts)and also my daughter Taylar (summer staff-she plays the guitar and sings).
Thanks for the cool picks. I am really excited about my climb.

Anita K.

Reepicheep said...

Anita! Of course I know Don and Linda!!! We met them last year and love them like we've known'em for 30! They keep accusing me of being part Baptist! Mike called me today and told me the wild story about finding the pic of Shari and I on Horn Peak. We climbed it again this year. I met your daughter too this year- the girl can sing!!! Great meeting you. Have a great time there at Horn Creek!