Three months ago, Colorado was in the midst of out-of-control wildfires. Everything was brittle and dead, and when the summer storms started, the lightning-induced fires were hard to contain.

And because this state is completely bi-polar, today is a very different story.

Unless you’ve been living under a (dry, well-insulated) rock, I’m sure you’ve heard that Colorado has been experiencing major flooding in the last week. The worst of it has been north of Denver in the Boulder/Longmont/Fort Collins area, and the images are heartbreaking. Some people have lost everything. Some have died. Hundreds are unaccounted for, and they expect the death toll to rise.

Still, I thought I’d wander alone into the wilderness on Saturday. DON’T WORRY – I headed south, away from the floods.


“Have you ever been turned back by weather?” he asked.

I thought about it. There was that one time where we arrived at the trailhead and it was already snowing, so we knew we were doomed from the start – but aside from that, never. Each and every one of the 35 14ers I had attempted, I summited that same day.

“When it happens – and it will happen – it will be good for you,” he said. “It will make you a better climber.”


On Saturday morning, I headed up Humboldt Peak with the hopes of it being my 36th 14er – but 4 miles in, I had to turn around at tree line. The top of the mountain was encased in a thick cloud, and even if I didn’t sense electricity above, I knew that if I lost the trail, I’d be done for.

I was disappointed. I had wanted to check another mountain off my list. But I listened to my gut, just like I did on the road to the trailhead when I came to a spot that I just didn’t think the Subaru could clear, and thus abandoned ship (have you ever reversed down a 4WD road? Lord, have mercy). And when you listen to your gut, when you act on conviction even when it goes against what you want – it builds confidence.

My friend was right: being turned back by weather was good for me. It confirmed that intuition is trustworthy – that instinct should be honored. I can only imagine the times in the future when this lesson is going to come in handy.

On the way back to Denver, I stopped in Westcliffe where I ordered coffee from a completely no-nonsense lady. Then I took a different route home from the road I’d driven to get there, soaking in the beauty of the state and feeling a million miles away from the flooding.

Despite the fact that I wanted to climb 7 14ers this summer and only got 4 (the last one being two months ago, for shame), I recognize that living life continually at full throttle sometimes just makes you want to throttle yourself. Maybe it’s better to enjoy the moment; after all, fires and floods remind us that nothing is guaranteed. And in the meantime, perhaps learning to trust your gut is as big an achievement as reaching your intended destination.



  1. Michael Rhyne on September 16, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Hee! I love that face. Wonderful post, and sound judgment. Yes, my heard has been broken by scenes from Colorado. Yes, I was a little concerned about how it was affecting you. No, I have never actually gone in reverse along a 4wd road! I did once come to a river and have the good sense not to try to ford it, esp. since there did not appear to be a road on the other side. Great job of taking care of you and seeing the beauty!

  2. Kendall on September 16, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    On the other end of that spectrum, when I was a mountain guide, there were plenty of times I was in precarious weather, above treeline, and though common sense said turn around, my gut said “keep going.” Each time, if we had turned around, we would have missed some pretty significant moment.
    Sometimes trusting your gut means going deeper into perceived danger to find out what it was saying in the first place:)

    Hope your roof was leak free through all the rain this past week.

  3. mom on September 16, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    And, even though I am thinking about and appreciating Kendall’s observations, I am REALLY happy that you erred on the side of caution when you were hiking alone! And, I can’t get over your cheek dimple, which is the first thing I noticed when you were laid on my chest at birth. Beautiful photo!!

  4. Michael on September 16, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Seriously, Mom…that dimple is too much! Trust an old man who inherited his Baptist preacher grandfather’s eye for beauty, lol, you are gorgeous! Lord help me, I’m as bad a flirt as Ernest was.

  5. mom on September 16, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    Michael, I don’t know who you are, but I like the way you roll!

  6. Bob on September 16, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Intuition is your subconscious talking to your conscious. Many times it is more observant… you should always listen to it.


  7. Michael on September 16, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Mom, I am a college prof whose wife ran across Annie’s blog years ago. I fell in love with your daughter’s music and started following her blog. Nice to “meet” you! We have come to care a great deal for your amazing daughter. We also have her songs on our mp3 players and continue to hope for more…just cheering you on, Annie ;-)

  8. The Zadge on September 16, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    You are my hero! Can’t wait to see you tomorrow in guitar class!

  9. hootenannie » Blog Archive » Mountain Law on August 1, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    […] morning, I set out to try to climb Humboldt Peak, the mountain that thwarted me last September. I’ll just go ahead and tell you that I didn’t make it to the top – because this is actually […]

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