grace on long’s

I hope it is O.K. to backtrack a bit and add one more story from our Colorado vacation. I had forgotten all

Long's Peak - Colorado

Long's Peak - Colorado

about it until I just saw the principal character at church yesterday. It is such a good story we have to rewind the clock 10 days to capture it.

Long’s Peak is one of what are known as the “14ers” in Colorado mountain lore. That is, mountains that are more than 14,000 feet tall. Long’s Peak is right there near the YMCA camp and sort of beckons to you every day. Long’s is also one of the most difficult of the 14ers to climb. To do it in one day, you basically have to start out on the trail at 2:00 a.m., hit the summit by noon, and then start back down before the afternoon storms arrive. It is about 17 miles round trip, with a 4800 foot total elevation gain from the trailhead and takes all of 16 or 17 hours to complete. So far a total of 54 people have died trying to climb Long’s Peak, two of them this year. Some have been struck by lightning because they did not get down before the afternoon storms. But most of them slipped and fell to their deaths.

I had talked about doing Long’s on this trip, but after hearing many of the horror stories about it, decided to settle for something a little more sedate. The Twin Sisters peak was my solution (written about in an earlier blog post). Two of our group – a man a little younger than me and his 14-year old son – decided they were up for it and planned to climb Long’s on Friday. We told them they should go with someone who had been before, but they said, “Naaahh! We’re O.K. We can do it.” Many of us right at that moment began praying for them.

They set off at about 1:45 from the Y camp and arrived at the Long’s Peak trailhead at about 2:15. At about 9:00 a.m., just as they were at the edge of the boulder field, Trevor, the son, (not his real name) started to complain about cramping. He had not really been drinking enough water and was really cramping badly. The weather report they heard for the day said that storms were expected on Long’s Peak at about 11:00 a.m. so Trevor’s father John (also not his real name) began to be worried. He gave Trevor a lot of water and told him to just sit down until the cramping went away. They waited for over an hour, with the clock ticking on the deadly summit storms.

Just as John was about to throw in the towel and say, “Let’s head back down,” another group caught up to them. This group was led by an experienced mountain guide who had climbed Long’s many, many times before. Trevor was feeling better and was anxious to resume the climb. The guide invited John and Trevor to join their group of scouts to complete the climb.

As it turned out, this guide showed them ways to reach the top that John and Trevor would never have discovered on their own. He helped them get across the very treacherous “Keyhole” piece and ultimately reach the summit. John said that when they got to the summit, they saw storm clouds ringed completely around Long’s Peak, but none actually on the peak itself.

They stayed for a bit and admired the view, then headed down, arriving safely at the base at about 6:00 that evening. We all greeted them like conquering heroes (which they were) at the Italian restaurant in town that night.

So tell me… would John and Trevor have succeeded in their attempt without the help of that guide? Would they have even met the guide if Trevor hadn’t cramped up and stopped on the trail? And what about those storm clouds ringing the peak, but not actually ON the peak?

Luck? Coincidence? The power of prayer at work? I know my answer, but I will let you figure out your own…


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