Turning 40 on a Mountain

I really love mountains and had really wanted to be on top of one for my 40th b-day. We’ve visited so many amazing mountain ranges over the last two years, and so it was VERY difficult to pick which one to travel to for the big day.

After another amazing summer galavanting around the West, I realized that I was starting to feel pretty tired of researching new places. So I decided to go for a more familiar route back from Anchorage, as we flew into Portland and started our drive to Nashville.

I studied my trusty Google Maps, and it became obvious: Boise, Salt Lake City, and Keystone, Colorado were all favorite places we could look forward to revisiting. Then it became even more clear to me that we could hike a mountain close to “home” in Keystone!

So, I finally picked a mountain for my birthday- a “14er” (one of Colorado’s 50+ mountains taller than 14,000 ft.), Gray’s Peak and asked the Halls if they’d like to join us. They indulged and made my birthday a win-win-win for all.

When we arrived at our town home rental in Keystone, I discovered that my sweet friend Vickie had gone over the top and surprised me with a fully decorated place – confetti, balloons, candles, gifts, my favorite kind of cake in the fridge, and even a crazy sash to wear for being 40! I was blown away by her thoughtfulness and kindness.

The kids had a blast the whole time together catching up, sharing their last year’s adventures and playing with their yoyo’s non-stop, and I enjoyed a very sweet time connecting with Heather.

I woke up on the morning of my b-day to an amazing slide-show that my sister Dee Dee had compiled, with photos and encouraging words from my parents and all my sisters. Of course, it made me cry! What a way to start a day!

The entire hike was pure bliss to me. I really was in my happy-zone. For my fellow-hiker friends, no words or explanations are needed – you KNOW. There’s just something about feeling like you are all alone in nature with 360 panoramic artistic views. The view changes with each half-mile to mile as you ascend and curve around, so there’s so much variety along the way.

Sure, it was challenging for everyone, especially when some weren’t drinking as much water as they should have ;), but all the kids rocked it, hardly complained and just let themselves get in a groove and push themselves. That was cool for me to see.

Some of my most special times that day were hiking with Jadyn. She’s one of my favorite people on earth. I could tell there were spots that were especially tough for her – altitude changes are no joke – but she was a great sport and didn’t complain.

She and I’d sometimes sing together, “I’ve got peace like a river…..I’ve got love like an ocean….I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul” – the song my sister Dee Dee used for my b-day slide show. We used it as a way to distract ourselves and also just appreciate the scenery and experience. For some reason, the words, the view, the time with Jadyn, the fact that my “wish came true” (being on a mountain for my b-day), created an overwhelming sense of gratitude, not just for that moment but for my whole life, and I just couldn’t help but crying again! Happy, grateful tears for sure.

And THEN, my other favorite moment was when we reached the first peak. The boys were already at the top cheering for Jadyn as we arrived which was very sweet. And all you mountain climbers know that moment when you don’t see the view…and then you do! That’s one of my favorite steps. Man, oh man! Again, I felt so overwhelmed, I started to cry again!!! I felt like a toddler who enters a play area and wants to play with all the toys. I wanted to run to every spot on the top to catch every view from every angle!! So majestic and spectacular.

We spent some time at the top of Gray’s to eat and rest since the sky was still clear. Then we kept going to hit our second peak, Torrey’s which was just close to another mile away. Another great feat for the kids and an amazing view!

All in all, our hike that day covered about 9 miles, and 3,600 feet elevation gain. Not your typical 40th bday party, but for me, I could not have been more happy or more grateful.

Thanks, Halls for joining me and making my day special, and thanks Don and my family for sharing my mountain love and blessing my life every single day!

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I asked them all to point in a different direction – Should have known where Gabe would point!

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