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I want to climb a mountain.

Certainly, to do so implies reaching the summit, trekking to the very top and gazing full circle, all 360 glorious degrees, upon the landscape both beyond and below. After hiking in Colorado last fall, someone suggested I try to ‘bag’ a 14er – a mountain peak that’s 14,000 feet or higher above sea level. And so, my husband and I now have a trip planned this summer to hike the beautiful trails and mountains there again and, of particular interest, to attempt to reach the crest of Gray’s Peak, the tenth highest mountain in Colorado. Whether or not our attempt at mastering such an ascent culminates in a stopping point where ‘down’ is the only option, I’ll still be content to just try, where the beauty and magnificence of this incredible wilderness state will be reward enough for our efforts. Still though, the pull of that moment, imagined in my mind’s eye, spurs me forward. I want it. I want it badly. I want to climb this mountain.

I’m told many factors will come into play. Only a select few will be under my control. Others, such as the weather, are conditions that will be calling the shots that day, one that will begin before the sun comes up. We’ve been advised to leave early, preferably around five AM, so that we can reach the top and begin our descent before noon to avoid getting caught, totally exposed at the top of the mountain, above the treeline, in summer storms that can quickly develop in the early afternoon hours.

My elliptical workouts during these cold winter months, with spring hikes planned in Iowa state parks, along with healthy eating, eager enthusiasm, photographic inspiration and technical skills are my contributions to the effort and I do what I can. I have no illusions. I turn 58 next week and while not terribly out of shape, nor am I a lean, mean fighting machine. Living here in the Midwest, where bluffs and hills provide weak to moderate vertical challenges, I realize that being a ‘flatlander’ will put me at odds when it comes to the elevation and thin air of Colorado terrain. A few days of acclimation will be required before we try the climb. Storms, wind and rain might derail us. There’s a lot to consider and some planning will be required if our venture to the top is be a successful one.

So be it. It’s my mountain and I want to see what she – and I – are made of.

Inspired by recent conversations with family as well as posts that I’ve read here in The Land of Blog, I’ve compiled my own Bucket List of adventures, goals and achievements to strive for before the days, weeks, months and years really start to slip away from me…

The point of creating a Bucket List, to my way of thinking, isn’t (or shouldn’t be) another means of self-flagellation for things not done or opportunities frittered away but rather as a vehicle for self-exploration, for contemplating your inner wants and needs, passions and desires and in the process of enumerating goals and perhaps unattainable ideals, learning something about what really means the most to you.

I’ve created my Bucket List – the beginnings of one anyway – fresh off the heels of a life-changing trip to Estes Park where my husband and I reveled in the joy and beauty of hiking in the Rocky Mountains.  This analysis of what I’d like to do and achieve prior to kicking the proverbial bucket, in part, reinforced (as did our hiking adventures this fall) the great satisfaction I found in participating in outdoor activities in my 20s and 30s – camping, hiking, spelunking, rappelling, exploring – gloriously fun times spent both with friends and with my son as well as solitary forays into the woods to hike or photograph or just spend time alone to think.

And so, what I’ve inscribed onto my Bucket List thus far is as follows:

  1. Master our new Canon 70D SLR
  2. Get myself published on Freshly Pressed
  3. Hike the Grand Canyon
  4. Relearn to crochet
  5. Bag me a 14er in Colorado
  6. Visit and explore New England
  7. Visit and explore Alaska
  8. Visit and explore Scotland, England and Ireland
  9. Experience Niagara Falls
  10. Drive up along Michigan’s North Shore Drive
  11. Travel to Instanbul
  12. Learn to kayak

Working towards one’s goals can serve, also, as a motivator like none other.  I know exercise and eating well is something I need to and should do for good health.  It’s a gnawing concern and one I strive to manage.  But yearning to hike to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain – and I ain’t getting any younger! – is going to require more than just sheer will and determination.  I need to prepare my body for this particular goal.  Visualizing myself standing at the top one of those magnificent peaks is more than adequate motivation to get myself in shape to accomplish my objective.

Travel and photography, well, I already know I love these pursuits so including them on my list with the goal of learning more and expanding what I already know, what I’ve already seen and done, is exciting and enticing.  I learned to crochet in my early 20s and have never returned to it.  I believe it’s time now to do so.  And what WordPress blogger doesn’t dream of being featured on Freshly Pressed?

This list may not stand, it may (and should!) change over time and hopefully, by the end of 2015, I’ll have #5 crossed off, and perhaps replaced with the goal of bagging yet another.  We’re already researching options and making plans.  For me, planning an adventure is half the fun!

So.  What’s on YOUR bucket list?