PB and J Never Tasted So Good

The goals of the Steamboat Mountain School Outdoor Program are to challenge each student to reach their full potential, to promote an appreciation of our natural environment and the wonders of life, to stimulate the spirit of our humanity, and to learn to have fun while being challenged physically and mentally. The annual 14er hikes accomplish these goals and help set the tone for the school year. This past week students and faculty split into 5 teams and attempted to summit Torreys Peak, Grays Peaks, Longs Peak, La Plata Peak, Mount Massive, and the Mount of the Holy Cross – each of these mountains rise more than 14,000’ above sea level. While the obvious goal is to summit these peaks the challenges and successes faced along the way are what make the journey an adventure.

Mr. Root guided the Longs Peak (14,259’) hike and shared his trip notes with us. The decision to not summit that day is never an easy one to make.

Room in the parking lot matches the iffy weather forecast for the day, clearing weather with high winds above timberline.
Hiking by shortly after 4:00 am, several others on the trail.
Passing tree line as the sunrise paints the sky over the distant city lights of Denver, very windy and cold.
Three of us turn back and the rest of the group presses on. They get into the Boulder Field, reconnoiter, and decide to be on the safe side and turn back.
1:00 pm, everyone is at the trailhead, even with the turn back the group that went to the Boulder Field had a 10 mile hike with an elevation gain of 3300+ vertical feet, a good day in anyone’s book!

Ms. Wither, guided the Mount of the Holy Cross (14,011’) hike and described her group as “helpful to each other, kind, and fun.” She went on to elaborate the hike up and down.

Our summit day brought more good weather.  We took our time hiking, made our way past so many false summits, and were at the top around noon.  PB and J never tastes as good as it does at 14,000 feet!  The hike down was a challenge and kids joked about sore knees and feet.  After arriving back at camp, we all took a little siesta before firing up the stoves to make some dinner.

Students shared their struggles, joys, and accomplishments with their peers and the faculty upon return. New sophomore, Eliza wrote:

When I finally got to the top, I remember looking out and being able to see no people except for the small community I was with. I felt surrounded by nature. I felt like I belonged. Suddenly, there was no “right way” to dress or speak. I felt like at that moment the only thing that mattered was living and being thankful for the air in my lungs.

Reflecting on the trip is a priority as our students and faculty return to daily campus life. The ability to articulate the emotional and physical challenges faced, the group dynamic ups and downs, and the skills shared in the field demonstrates our students’ ability to problem solve and grow from their experiences.