Last week my husband and I were visiting relatives in Colorado Springs. One day we decided to drive up Pikes Peak which has an elevation of 14,115 feet (nearly 4,302 meters).
This was my second visit to Pikes Peak. The first time my aunt, who lives in Colorado Springs, drove me up. I remember I got quieter and quieter the higher we ascended. From my position in the passenger seat, there were times when it looked like we were going to go over the edge as there were no guardrails and the turns were very sharp. It was easier coming down, for me at least!
This time, we had considered taking the cog railway but alas, that is being replaced and will not reopen until 2021. At the same time, a new visitor's center is being built on the summit. While the old center will remain open until construction is completed, parking on the summit is extremely limited. In response to that, a shuttle service was implemented at the visitor centers at the 13 and 16 mile visitor centers. My husband and I opted to park our car in the 13 mile lot so that both of us could enjoy the view. It is, after all, important for the driver to keep their eyes on the road, especially on a narrow mountain road!
Though during our first year of marriage, my husband and I lived in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, we are Midwesterners who are much more accustomed to driving over flat land, gently rolling hills and river bluffs than we are to towering mountains. We were glad to let someone else to the driving and happily turned our full attention to the beauty around us.
Quite frankly, I think both of us were content to place our lives in the hands of the "expert" who had made this journey hundreds of times. In doing so, we had the benefit of seeing a few things we would not have noticed on our own. He not only knew the history, he knew where and what to look for as we journeyed up (and later down) the mountain.
If you wanted to ascend the mountain, you had to put forth the effort to do so. People ascended in various ways. Some people hiked, some people biked, some people drove and on designated days, some people even raced up the mountain. Some ways required less physical exertion but all ways required determination and concentration to reach your goal. All ways required preparation as well as examination. If you were driving a vehicle it had to be in good working order, otherwise you would not be allowed to proceed and on the way down, brakes were checked.
There were stern warnings that you needed to consume a lot of water while you were on the mountain. If you were not used to higher elevation, it was strongly recommended that you give yourself at least a day to acclimate yourself in Colorado Springs or Denver before visiting Pikes Peak. You needed to watch out for signs of altitude sickness. Don't push yourself too hard or you will be sorry. We heeded the warnings.
For someone who is not thrilled by heights, I do pretty well at high altitudes provided I drink plenty of water and listen to my body. That heart of mine gets to beating faster much more easily at 14,000 plus feet but simply resting for a minute or tow and taking a few slow deep breaths gets things back on track again.
It was just a bit different for my husband. Usually he has to wait for me but on Pikes Peak I had to wait for him. That's okay. Sometimes we have to go at our own pace.
My journey up the mountain gave me much to think about in regards to my spiritual journey. I have to be willing to receive help when necessary. I need to submit to check-ups to make sure everything is in working order. I need to be prudent and allow the Holy Spirit to be my guide and counselor. I need to make sure I am "spiritually hydrated" by God's Word as well as prayer. I also need to listen and act accordingly. Sometimes I really do need to slow down and even be still for a bit so that I will be able to effectively move on to the next step.
Finally, I must not compare myself to others. This is my story, my journey. Some of us make the journey faster, some of us move a bit slower. The important thing is that we keep our eyes focused on Christ, keep on walking and help and encourage others to do the same.