A 14er Prayer Peaks Dayhike: Mount Evans
By Jim Doenges
Colorado Front Range Chapter Coordinator
Another Prayer Peaks Day and another opportunity to join with other believers in prayer from on high! This was an impromptu outing, since just one week earlier I thought I had not yet recovered from thyroid cancer surgery enough to give it a go. The desire of some friends to again participate in PrayerPeaks encouraged me. This was my third Prayer Peaks Day, Tim’s fourth, Julianna’s third, and Dwayne’s second.
We met at 4:30 a.m. on July 1, 2006 for the drive to Guanella Pass to attempt Mount Evans via the West Ridge, a fairly easy Class II outing with nine miles of above treeline travel, almost all of it without a trail. Mount Evans is often not perceived as among the most aesthetic of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks because it has a paved road up it. It is the highest paved road in America, and causes crowds of tourists and locals alike to often crowd the summit. The West Ridge route would allow us to avoid the crowds until we reached the top, where we would have an opportunity to witness to our faith by praying in a very public place.
We began with a prayer circle at the busy Guanella Pass trailhead for Mount Bierstadt, one of Colorado’s easiest and most popular 14ers. Less than a mile down the Bierstadt trail, we veered off trail through wet willows to begin our journey up Evans. Ascending, we traveled through most of the major tundra plant communities, including wet meadows, alpine turfs, gopher gardens, rock and gravel areas, and fellfields. (A close look at the land above the trees can show you that tundra is not at all monotonous; it is surprisingly diverse and fascinating.) God put on an amazing flower show all day long! We saw scarlet, pink, and yellow Indian Paintbrush, Kings Crown; Colorado Blue Columbine; Pinnate-leaved Daisy; Greenleaf Chiming Bells; Alpine Forget-me-not; Alpine Phlox; Elephants Head; Marsh Marigold; Globeflower; Alpine Avens, Big-rooted Springbeauty; American Bistort; Rydbergia; Moss Campion; Parry, Dwarf, and Alpine Clovers; and others.
God knows every bird in the mountains (see Psalm 50:11) and among His feathered creation were Stellar’s Jays, White-crowned Sparrows, Wilson’s Warblers, Rosy Finches, American Pipits, and Ravens.
God’s Word encouraged us during a break:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
“I will strengthen you and help you;
“I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
We also listened to some of the acrostic (P-R-A-Y-E-R-S) Prayer Peaks verses: Mark 12:29-30, John 17:20-23, Psalm 119:11-12, 1 Timothy 4:12, Matthew 28:18-20, Psalm 85:6, and 1 Peter 5:8-11.
We reached the summit of 13,800-foot Mount Spalding, one of the many shoulders of Mount Evans and enjoyed the view down to Summit Lake below. After a short descent we began the ascent up the West Ridge, which looked wonderfully airy. We noted that the clouds were building quickly.
It is amazing how fast thunderstorms can build up here in Colorado, where lighting deaths per capita are the fifth highest of any state in the country. I take the safety of others seriously, so we turned around after a few photos. Less than ten minutes later the graupel and hail began, followed by thunder. It was only about 10:30 in the morning, but I should have turned us around sooner! I prayed as we descended. We picked up two young hikers who sought the safety of numbers. A short time later the lightning and precipitation stopped, but the skies remained threatening as we continued to descend.
Immediately after reaching our vehicle, the lightning and rain poured down from the sky. God is so good, all the time. He answered our prayers and kept us safe. Dwayne treated us all to ice cream in Georgetown, a historic mining town north of the Pass. Thanks Dwayne!
This was my fifth attempt to summit this easy 14er, which is more “unsuccessful” attempts for me than any other peak. I did hike all the way to the summit of Evans years ago via a much longer route, but the two hiking partners with me that day would not attempt the tiring descent so we all hitched a ride down the road. Three winter ascents were also foiled — one when I turned a stronger friend around when I was worn down by extreme winds and whiteout conditions just 200 vertical feet from the summit, and another when I slowed a friend down after I broke through the ice of a beaver pond soon after starting out from Guanella Pass (brrr), and yet another when deep snow below Abyss Lake slowed an attempt to spend New Year’s Eve on the top. (The winds that night while camped high in the Mount Evans-Mount Epaulet col were an exciting way to pray in a new year!) Some day, I’ll get up and down Evans. The great mountaineer Yvonne Chouinard said that in the mountains, “speed is safety.” That’s true. But it is important to me to spend time with other people — both young and old — who might not be able to move fast. These words from Charles Spurgeon, a renowned preacher of yesteryear, are also true: “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
Although we were not able to pray from the summit on this trip either, we were reminded that it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. As Christians, our destination is assured — eternity with our Lord in heaven. Until then, how we journey does indeed matter. We were not created to be pew potatoes! Remember the words of the prophet Jeremiah and Solomon:
“This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
“Ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
“And you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
“May He turn our hearts to Him,
“To walk in all His ways…
“But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God.”
(1 Kings 8:58, 61)
We had a great day, and we thanked our Lord for His creation, our hike, our fellowship, and keeping us safe. We also thanked God for Pastor Derek Fullerton, a board member of Climbing For Christ who started Prayer Peaks Day nine years ago.
If you participated in Prayer Peaks, please drop us a line here at Climbing For Christ and tell us about your day. If not, plan on climbing high on July 1, 2007 to pray 2 Chronicles 7:14 over the nation on the 10th annual Prayer Peaks Day.