The morning after we climbed Blanca, my whole body felt heavy with tiredness, yet light with inspiration. I lay in bed, returning to the side of the mountain and the boulders that angled up towards the peak.
That morning, we dragged ourselves out of our tents into the dark, cold mountainside. We felt the miles we had hiked from the valley floor the day before in our steps, but our steps were much lighter without the weight of our packs.
Through the dark, we navigated ourselves through endless switchbacks and boulder fields, small alpine lakes and streams – precious water trickling below us as we passed. Each foot we gained in elevation, our lungs gasped a little more for air.
The rising sun finally greeted us as we we made it to the ridge between Blanca and Ellison Peaks. There, my whole body screamed with fatigue, a lack of oxygen, but my heart and mind could not wait. I split off from the others, still slowly climbing each boulder, but with each step, adrenaline pulsed through my veins.
After a while of scrambling, walking on all fours up the boulder ridge, I made it to the peak, and it was quiet – perhaps 8 or so in the morning. The sun warmed my bones that were made cold from the miles in the frigid morning.
I collapsed onto a rock and sat, breathing with relief. I propped my head up with my arm against my leg, alone, until a marmot made her way near me.
I’m not sure if it was the surprising feeling of believing myself to be alone, but suddenly discovering that I was not, but for the next couple minutes, I sat next to the marmot and cried.
I had made it to the highest peak in the valley.
I could see everything.