“What do you want to do this summer?”
This was a question Brandon’s dad asked him every summer since he could walk.
At age 12 his dad and his uncle traversed all across Europe, from the Notre Dame Cathedral to the breathtaking Berlin Wall. His father’s adventurous spirit inspired their atypical itineraries of adventures that ranged from zip-lining through the mile long canyons of Costa Rica to relaxing in the natural warm springs of Thermopolis, Wyoming. It was a typical Tuesday night and they were congregating around the dinner table.
Brandon’s eyes shot at his father with a confused stare and waited for further explanation. He explained that he wanted to go to Washington and do some hiking in the mountains. Over the years his dad had taken him to Seattle several times and Brandon was infatuated with all the natural beauty he saw.
He was enamored, the countless evergreen trees fertilized by the reposeful rain; so as you can imagine, he was all for his dad’s suggestion. Little did he know what he was getting into.
At last it was summer.
His dad, his brother, and Brandon himself flew out to Seattle to begin their journey. The night they arrived, they conversed with the mountain guides that were taking them up the ten-thousand seven-hundred and eighty-one foot summit of Mt. Baker. They informed them of what they would need and supplied them with some food and gear. Imagine your food supply for five days only being encompassed in two gallon sized zip-bloc bags. This was made possible by dehydrated foods.
As Brandon’s bag began to fill with food, his stomach began to fill with butterflies.
After a good night’s sleep, they were off to climb. It’s not that he thought that climbing a mountain would be easy. However, after the first day of hiking, he quickly realized that he had underestimated the task at hand. Hiking was not a foreign activity to him, but never had he hiked as he did on the first day of the Mt. Baker ascension. He was required to carry his sixty pound backpack consisting of all of his food, clothing, and supplies for four and a half miles at a stifling incline the whole way. This was only to reach base camp.
He was enjoying himself, learning, and having fun in the snow, but still there was the underlying thought in the back of his head that he would not be able to complete his journey after the draining difficulties he faced on the first day.
They were sitting around the campfire the evening before the summit day. Their mountain guides were clarifying any last minute questions and were getting them ready for an early wake up call. Brandon was worried about the climb, but when they asked who was ready to go, he masked my fear with a yell as everybody cheered in unison.
Next thing he knew it was two-thirty in the morning, the moment of truth; they were waking up to start their ascent. They opted to wake up before the sun rose to avoid as much of the day’s heat as possible. At the beginning of the hike he was so groggy that he couldn’t even feel the intensity of the slope in front of him. All Brandon could think of was putting one foot in front of the other.
Hours passed like minutes and then all of the sudden, the sun began to peak up over the mountains and highlight the various jagged peaks around them.
It was the most riveting sunrises he had ever seen.
The ravishing colors, the burning orange, and the crisp yellows put him in a trance. The entire day Brandon was captivated by the beauty of the nature surrounding him.
It completely took Brandon’s mind off of the pain of his aching legs and the mental agony that never ceased to burden him. It motivated him in my climbing and drove him all the way to the top.
Once Brandon had reached the summit, it felt like he had arrived to a surreal, tranquilizing place. Although it was not his home, it felt like he had fulfilled a destiny.
Parallel with the clouds, adjacent with the once intangible peak, Brandon had reached ten-thousand feet, the vertex of heaven and earth. He knew that climbing a mountain would be a huge risk, but in doing so he became a stronger person, grasping the concept of mental endurance. Through the miles of intense hiking, he also re-defined my idea of physical endurance. This was one of the most miraculous experiences in Brandon’s life. What was once merely a fantasy had become a reality.