This past weekend, one of my friends and I summited four 14ers in one day. For readers unfamiliar with hiking lingo, 14ers are mountains whose peaks are 14,000 or more feet above sea level. These hikes are not for the faint of heart. They require an early start, with most hikers starting around the crack of dawn. They are long trails, that take hours to complete and often have portions of rocks that have to be carefully climbed over. Despite how difficult they are, they are an amazing feat to accomplish. There is no feeling that compares to standing on top the highest peak for miles around, taking in breathtaking views of valleys, hills, plains and even snow.
Standing on top of those peaks makes you feel like you can anything. Also, for someone who has a fear of heights, you feel like you just might pass out. I always forget how terrified of heights I am, until I'm climbing up a particularly rocky part of the cliff and I happen to take a look down. A rush of the most irrational terror washes over me as I image about 50 ways I could fall off the edge of the trail. Despite this fear, I keep going, knowing that once I am at the top, on a flat rock from which I cannot see the side of the mountain, it will all be totally worth it.
Even though I am totally afraid coming up and down the very top of the summits, I forget this fear as I embark on the next one. It s as if my brain washes out the negative memories, keeping only the rush of endorphins I felt while on top. I keep climbing because the good out-weighs the bad. Although I am still afraid, and that fear will most likely never go away, climbing to the tops of these mountains has taught me to face my fear. It has given me control over my fear and allowed me to prove for ever reason to cry, I have at least four reasons to smile.