Moonlight Snowshoe

Last weekend was perhaps the last time this spring that the full moon, will illuminate the mountain park and make it possible for a group to snowshoe up the mountain.

A group of like minded individuals, all total around 20 of us, gathered at the Cuchara Mercantile for refreshments and appetizers before setting off on the evenings adventure.

I’ve never done a moonlight snowshoe and was intrigued figuring it might be too dark, even with a full moon to see where I was going. It was a little dark, even with a Super Moon shining down on all the recent snow. However, it was easy enough to see the few feet ahead and to check my footing so that I didn’t stumble or fall.

I assumed we would take the near level snowshoe path through the putt putt course, but was told the snow was too deep. To my dismay, I quickly realized the more experienced climbers were headed straight up the mountain. Not a switch back, no cutting corners to ease the climb, straight up.

I knew it was going to be a challenge, after all, I spent most of my life at sea level. I didn’t know if I could make it and there was little explanation of what our goal was and where we were headed. I blindly followed, but after a little more than an hour, I had slipped to last place with only my dear brother staying by my slow moving side so I didn’t get left behind.

Being the recovered smoker that I am, I was encouraged to keep climbing even though I found it difficult to catch my breath. My friend, Chris who owns the Cuchara Mercantile told me I was 2/3 of the way to the top and to keep going, so on I pushed. Mind you, I quite smoking 11 years ago and I hike in these mountains every spring and summer. But climbing to the top of Lift 4 was beginning the feel a bit like a death march, so I decided to turn around and make my way back down the mountain.

Keep in mind, only 4 months ago I had broken my ankle. Yes, the first week in my new cabin, I fell and broke my tibia. Now, I’m not one for excuses, but in my more mature years I have learned to pace myself and not push myself to limits I know I cannot sustain. So, even though the “prize” was shouting distance away, I turned back so I could safely make it back down.

I had set my iPhone to workout mode so I could at least track my progress and was delighted to see when I got back to the facility, that I had hiked 1.65 miles in an hour and 7 minutes with an increase of elevation of just under 1000 feet. To me, that was a huge feat, having never even attempted to climb straight up a ski lift!

As a child, I competed in individual sports, not team sports. I rode hunters and jumpers, I was in gymnastics and I swam competitively for a while. I know not to judge myself based on others achievements. I had accomplished a great deal, this last full moon, and it has inspired me to make hiking and snowshoeing a habit instead of an semi annual event.

I may have turned back, but I’m able to say at least I did it and that my friend is what life if all about. Life is not a race, it doesn’t matter who gets to the finish line first, it matters that each of us are improving ourselves moment by moment, and pushing down boundaries that get in our way!

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