This I Believe

Ernest - Runnells, Iowa
Entered on February 11, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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Climbing the Mountain

Ever since I first went to Colorado and saw the mountains, I’ve wanted to climb to the top of them. I told my parents, “they’re just right over there a couple of miles,” but my parents told me that even though they look close, they’re actually about fifty miles away. I finally got my chance to go during the summer of 2006, when my Boy Scout troop finally decided to set out to climb one of the mountains, as well as go rafting on the Arkansas River. But I was just excited to go hike on a mountain.

When we got to the mountain, and unpacked all of our gear, I was amazed at how gigantic the mountains actually were. As we started our hike up the mountain, we were all making fun of each other, and screwing around, but as the day went on and we started to get tired, the talking slowed and everybody focused on putting one foot in front of the other one, and to just keep going.

I was in pretty good shape, so I wasn’t as focused on the burning sensation in my thighs and calves, but more on how beautiful the mountains looked. All the time it took to get to our first campsite, I spent on just looking around, taking notice of the different shades of green on the trees. That night as we went to bed, I sat up for a while listening to the sounds in the trees around us. Every once in a while I would hear an owl, or a squirrel, but I never heard anything cool, like a mountain lion or a cougar. The next day after we filled our water bottles in the mountain stream, we started to hike again.

As we were hiking that day, I started to think about how cool it would be to live on the mountain. You would have tons of water, you would have meat from deer and other woodland creatures, you could probably find some berries for other nutrients, and you would be able to be up here in the fresh air with scenery that would inspire painters to paint nothing but mountains all day. I thought about that for a couple hours, until we passed a guy on the trail that looked like he might actually live on the mountain. He was wearing hardly any clothes, he was dirty, and he was missing all but ten of his teeth. That got me off of living on the mountain fast.

That night I continued to listen for a mountain lion or a cougar, but I never heard one. That morning as I was eating my peanut butter and crackers, I saw some prints in the mud. Success, I had found my cougar.

I left for the final campsite that day pretty happy. I had found my cougar, and I was relatively full. I wasn’t doing to bad. I was pretty tired so I wasn’t paying much attention, when I saw a lot of prints in the mud. They looked a lot like the ones back at the other campsite. I started to panic a little, because I thought we were about to get eaten alive by a cougar-slash-mountain lion type thing, when two dogs came running around the corner being chased by their owners. Everybody started to make fun of me for thinking I was about to get eaten, and for mistaking dog tracks for mountain lion tracks.

When we got to the final campsite, it was a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by trees. we put down all of our stuff, and ran around until we found out where we were going to put our tents. In the morning we packed up and started down the mountain.

While it took us about fifteen to twenty hours to climb the mountain, it only took us about five to make our descent. But in those five hours, I started to think about how that climb was kind of like life. At the beginning, we are only looking around, seeing how everything works, understanding how big and complex a place life is. Then we start to think about what we’re going to do for the rest of our lives. We weigh our options, and make decisions to help us towards our goal. Then, at the end, we start to see death, and we get frightened. But then after we die, we realize that death wasn’t such a big deal, and that life after death can be a beautiful place.

I believe in the one thing I know is guaranteed to get me away from the world and let me think on life. The one thing I know is peaceful and you can get something out of every time you do it. I believe in hiking.