As we grow up we hear a lot of "never give up" and "follow your dreams". However, those are just words that so many don't follow themselves. I am one of those people who believe in persistence. I believe that if you really want something, you will never stop working towards it.

Last week I told you a little about 14ers and my journey to the summit. There was a brilliant feeling of finally making it to the top of a mountain after two failed attempts. The persistence and drive that it took to make it up the mountain was more than I thought I had in me. Yet, I mustered the energy from somewhere inside me and kept on climbing.

On Saturday, September 3, 2016 I returned to my first Goliath, my first mountain, my first and second failed attempt. Quandary Peak has always been a mountain that I felt like I could never summit. It's not necessarily that it is a hard mountain to hike, but after two failed attempts you begin to question yourself. This time the weather was more favorable and I had a fire burning inside me that was ready to be used to push my way to the top.

I had no idea what lied ahead of me...

My pace was much faster than ever before, but I still had to stop for breaks more often than most. My hiking partners, Josh and Kristen, were both in much better shape than I and could have left me in the dust if they wanted to. However, being the great boyfriend and friend that they are, they stayed by my side, encouraging me the whole way.

Each step took me closer and closer to my goal. They also took me down memory lane. It seemed that at each turn or stop, I would remember it from the last two trips in the snow. The rock that I sat on during our first trip as I struggled to catch my breath. The trees we ate lunch in. The spot at 13,000 ft (we thought it was 13,500 ft but discovered on this trip it was only 13,000 ft) where i began showing signs of altitude sickness and had to turn around. 

These memories set off red flags in my head telling me to turn around. I wasn't having that though. I had more determination in me than ever before. I wasn't going to let those memories stop me from reaching the top. Instead, I took those memories and the red flags that they set off and used them like fuel to a fire. I had failed so many times before, I wasn't going to fail this time.

I could feel the difficulty of the hike every step of the way. After doing Gray's Peak last week in the snow, I was surprised with how much trouble I was having getting up Quandary. I don't know if it was the steep grade or the rocks sliding beneath my feet, but I was struggling every step of the way.

I wasn't alone though, Along the trail we made many new friends, some from New York who we leap frogged with almost the whole way up and had great conversations a photo opportunities. Another group were from the Colorado Springs area, but one girl with them had just moved to Colorado from Chicago about 52 hours before deciding to climb to the top of a mountain. Her determination was amazing and side by side, we made our way to the summit of this great mountain that had deterred me so many times before.

With it being Labor Day weekend, there were many people on the mountain, and it seemed to be even more at the summit. It was like a big party, we were all in this together and the celebration at the top was glorious. We were on top of the world, sharing stories, booze, and pictures. Revealing in the immense goal we had just reached.

I think this may be the thing that I love most about climbing 14ers. The majority of us out here are in this together. We make new friends and accomplish these goals together. We make plans to meet again on another mountain for another trip to the top together. We share these new memories and hope to make more. Climbing a 14er is unlike any other hiking trail in the country and I look forward to many more trips with the amazing hikers of these beautiful 14ers and our journey together.

Here is to summit #2, only 56 more to go.