“How many 14ers have you done?”
In Colorado, this is like the hiking version of “How many ski days did you get in?” You gotta do at least one. Last summer, I set a goal to summit fourteen 14ers, so I’d have an answer for this question:
“Fourteen. Quandary, Bierstadt, Pikes Peak, Grays, Torreys, Sherman, Evans, Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross, Belford, Oxford, and Elbert.”
People are usually shocked when they hear this. I hiked well over 80 miles in a three month span to reach some of Colorado’s greatest peaks but this accomplishment isn’t what I’m really proud of.
Here’s what I really accomplished hiking 14 14ers:
1. I explored
Relatively new to Colorado, I hadn’t traveled much. Hiking the 14ers gave me a solid reason to get in the car and go every single weekend.
2. I made better decisions
Before peak bagging, I was regularly binge drinking. My dating life was total shit. I hated the house I was renting out of. I didn’t have a big support system. I was truly unhappy. I had to completely change my lifestyle to reach my goal. No more disappointing Tinder dates, no more late nights at the bar, less time at home and more in a tent, and just a lot more hiking. All in all, a lot more happiness.
3. I made real friends
As a recent Denver transplant, making friends in the city was a slow go. Dirtbags galore on the trails though! I’ve connected with the most amazing people and my social life is so much better now!
4. I got in shape
I won’t lie, I started out kinda chubby on my first 14er, but by the time I got to the last one, I was stronger and lost the beer belly. My confidence and self-esteem skyrocketed!
5. I did some healing
My last boyfriend was emotionally and psychologically abusive. The feelings I’ve been left with can’t easily be shaken. But somewhere between each trailhead and the summit, I had a space to let some of that go, and take back the life I deserve.
6. I overcame challenges
It would have been easier to sleep in on the weekends. I could have turned back when my car couldn’t make it to some of the trailheads. I could have held back when I had no one to hike with. There’s so many excuses I could have made, but that would have made for a lame ass story, and I’m just not about that.
So, now the question people ask me is, “Will you do all of them?”