Mount Pomeroy & Krits…

Talking to my sister, KA, the other day about heading back to Deer Valley, Colorado this next summer (yes, it’s not too early to think summer) had my mind wandering back to July of 2015 when we were last there. We’ve been going to this same spot since I was four. I don’t know how many times we’ve visited these Rocky Mountains but the last one was a special one with my best girl, Krits. Here’s a reminder. This ones for my daughter, Krits. If you, reader, draw anything, well, that’s a bonus…

When we drove the four wheel drive up the rocky road and jostled Krit and me from side to side, I knew it was the beginning to an epic day. Moments later, Cowboy Bob parked the Suburban and out we hopped. Brandon, Krit, Bob, and I stared up at the toughest first hour of what would become a five hour climb. There was no trail, Bob commented as he headed through the brush. Talk about Captain Obvious. Within minutes we were crossing the first of a few mountain streams and Krit and my unprepared feet were soaking wet. As we headed up the first climb we were grabbing onto anything for leverage. Krits just kept coming…

The first hour climb was done in less than forty five minutes, so, all were feeling good as we gasped for air and saw a series of ridge lines as far as the eye could see. There wasn’t any sign of life and the only sound was our collective breathing. I asked Cowboy Bob where, exactly were we headed. He said to Mount Pomeroy and pointed beyond the last ridge – “You can’t see it yet,” he matter of fact concluded. I looked at Krit, looked at the rocky mass ahead, and put one foot forward and then another. After completing five ridge climbs and descents we stood looking over Upper Lake Pomeroy. Brandon had back planted already and was bleeding from hand and leg. Krits was soon to go down on the descent. I felt like I couldn’t get my balance and could down on every rock that wiggled. Bob was still bouncing along.

He pointed to the last ridge summit that lay before us and Krit and I looked at each other. We were cold, tired, mentally exhausted, and when she said she was done I was as happy as I’ve been since seeing the last turn on Alpe de Huez. Bob and Brandon estimated the last climb was all of ten minutes but Krit and I were done. We found a tiny alcove right next to a huge chunk of snow which blocked the cold wind and took up residence. It was only 10am and we’de already been climbing for 2.5 hours, most of it up, up, and more up. Neither of us are fond of ham and cheese but we ate every scrap of it without so much as a word. Chips, candy, crackers – they didn’t stand a chance. We both chuckled that we would have eaten the paper too. The ten minutes to the final summit turned into 11bells before they returned. We were glad to see them and in an instant began the challenge of going back. The thought of going up and down the ridge line for another two hours was more than even Cowboy Bob could imagine. So, as we made our way off the first ridge and stared ahead at number two, he veered off course and headed straight down. Like an idiot, I followed close behind. Krits and Brandon waited back and shouted out at both of us. Cowboy Bob said he was checking it out to see how sheer the drop off down below. My mind began to forecast forward and it wasn’t good. My feet, however, just kept moving…

After a couple minutes time that seemed much longer, Bob shouted back to Krit and Brandon to come along – we were going down. Straight down. Yikes. The next hour was one massive adrenaline rush, literally. We went one at a time making our way down about 25 yards at a time and then taking shelter behind some boulders while the next one took their turn. The reason? Falling rock. Every step down was like a controlled rock slide. I was scared. My legs were wobbling as too much blood was rushing to my brain and too little to my extremeties. Krits would take a bad fall on this descent but she fell into the mountain instead of away from it. Her injuries were on her backside. Good. Her knee was screaming and her nice new balance tennies were blood stained too. She kept coming. Her pace slowed as she measured each step. Bob bounced along kinda like the Cretan bounce developed by the natives of Crete who just hop from rough rock to rough rock along the rugged island mountains. Bob, by the way, is a 59 year old retired teacher. Yeah, baby.

So, Brandon, Krits, and I hobbled and limped along. Bob bounced. It was good to see him out front – bouncing. After a really rough hour, we were sitting on rock and there was actually grass around it. Krit and I embraced and knew we had made it. The remaining 90 minutes was like a walk in the park in compare. Her knee screamed, my legs shook, and yet we kept putting one foot in front of another. When we finally saw the truck, I told Krit she had done a great job. She had. This hike up Pomeroy Mountain without so much as a sniff of a trail was the hardest hike I have ever done. I told her this within ear shot of Cowboy Bob. Cowboy Bob caught it and seized the moment too. He turned toward Krit and gave her a tip of the hat. He was amazed she had made it, I could tell. Krits looks too beautiful and sweet for something so rugged and raw. Krits is much more than meets the eye, like so many of us. Cowboy Bob doesn’t mince his words. His directions on the mountain were short. “Stop going there – go here.” Matter of fact. Got it. However, as he turned the ignition he turned around toward young Krit and said simply, “That hike you just did is harder than 80% of the 14er’s. You see, the 14er’s have been leveled off and trails put in due to their ridiculous popularity. I don’t do them anymore. I prefer the ones like this where there is no trail, no people, no plan – you gotta make it up as you go.”

As I took in Cowboy Bob’s words, I grabbed young Krits arm and gave it a squeeze. She and I had just made a memory that’s gonna last. We had taken a calculated risk, nothing crazy, but not safe either. We ventured off the beaten path and made our own way. We had a virtuous guide but the adventure had to be claimed on our own as well. Nobody paved the way, really. Krits had to make her own way, as did I. Isn’t this the lesson of life, friend…

I’m really happy for enduring the challenge that felt like it was just out of reach. I’m really happy to have done it with my girl, Krits. She grew a bit on that ridgeline. Sure, she suffered some too. Krits kept coming in spite of the cuts, cracks, and crazy climbs. Krits kept coming. Thanks, Krits for inspiring me to keep going too. And, thanks for knowing when it’s time to stop, refuel, rest, and then go again. I’ll never forget Mount Pomeroy and the image of you putting one foot in front of another – gingerly, mind you. I’ll never forget the guts you showed.

You are finding your way, young Krits. You are finding your way. Keep going. Keep going, girl. Keep going, Krits. Keep going, beautiful woman. Keep going, brave lady. Keep going. And, know all my love is always coming alongside. Good…

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