Mt. Chirripo, Costa Rica
So, here’s how the story goes. I was turning 40, frustrated with the struggles of fibrous dysplasia flare ups and fertility issues, I decided to do something EPIC. Why? WHY NOT! Mainly because I could… and I thought that I better do it now while I still had the physical capabilities. It was something on my bucket list and I wanted to LIVE and CELEBRATE life, and that’s exactly what I did. Of course, I had some foolish people that I suckered into doing this excursion with me. I made this trek sound so amazing that not only my husband, Mark (not that he had a choice) joined me but also my brother, Matt, and his wife (and dear friend) Contessa, decided to tackle the mountain with me. I had some pretty great training buds too. Paul Shropshire and Lauren Sheinberg allowed me to join them at the awe inspiring yet arduous trail at Riverplace on Saturday mornings. It was challenging, beautiful, and crushing…just what I needed to prepare for Chirripo!
I was amped up, ready to go, and so mentally prepared that I hardly noticed that the first 3K on the way up was at a 14.5% grade. Just for reference, the average percent grade for Pikes peak is 12%. It was the most grueling hike up, and I mean straight up, that I could ever imagine. I remember chatting with some people that were on their way down, trying to get an idea of what was in store for us. This is how I remember the conversation, “Well, from here you go straight up, and then you pretty much go straight up from there, and there really isn’t a break until you get to the treetops, and then you go up some more.” It was a true test of endurance both mentally and physically. We finally made it to base camp after climbing from 5,000 ft to 11,500 ft. Then we proceeded to get up at 2am so that we could be on the trail again at 3am, hike up in the pitch black darkness of the night (the stars were unbelievable) for 2 hours, only to summit at 12,550ft for sunrise – PERFECT TIMING. There are no words to describe the feeling that takes over you when you are at the tallest point in Costa Rica, just above the clouds, the sun coming up and forming a silver lining, and beautiful mountains and lakes all around you, with people that you love. I was overwhelmed and I could barely even process the moment. Emotions don’t usually come to me right away….until my brother, Matt, surprised me with a celebratory bottle of wine and a couple of wine glasses that he carried all the way up that damn mountain. Evidently, the three of them had planned to surprise me, but as Costa Rica has it, no plans go as scheduled and they had difficulties pulling it off. TEARS, TEARS, AND MORE TEARS! They got me! So, it’s now 5am or so, and yes, we are drinking a glass of merlot. We toasted to the moment and gave some to the mountain Gods and headed down for the decent. We FINALLY made it down to the bottom of the mountain after an arduous, disheartening, hike down. I hate downhill!!! I learned that Mark and I are Ying and Yang. I kicked butt going up but suffered miserably heading down…his experience was the complete opposite. Matt and Contessa were solid the entire time. I felt so empowered after this experience and I could not have pulled it off without Mark, Matt, and Contessa. Thank you so much for your support! I am envious of all 3 of these people. So strong! There truly is only one word to describe this experience. EPIC!