EnCompass Member Magazine
September/October 2002

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September 23
by Jennifer Reeder

Photo: Jennifer Reeder.
In August of last year, my boyfriend and I moved to Durango because we always wanted to live in the mountains of Colorado. Less than a month after our move, the September 11 attacks occurred, and we found ourselves spending more and more time outside. We hiked, fished and camped, and tried to find solace in nature. Sometimes, we did.

On September 23, we decided to climb our first "fourteener," Handies Peak. Our trail guide said it was a relatively easy fourteener, aside from the altitude. As we huffed and puffed our way up, it didn't seem "easy." We crossed paths with an elderly couple and a man with a prosthetic leg—people who had much less difficult times with their ascents.

Despite our poor conditioning, we struggled on past chirping marmots and an inviting lake. The last half-mile took a long time, but when we finally reached the summit, we were rewarded with incredible views of the San Juan Range. But what brought me to tears was that a hiker before us had erected a small, slightly tattered American flag at the top of Handies Peak—a tribute to America's solidarity in the face of national tragedy.

It wouldn't surprise me if all of Colorado's 54 fourteeners had similar tributes that day.

Jennifer Reeder is a Durango-based freelance journalist and frequent contributor to The Durango Herald.

Do you have a special memory or humorous story about living in Colorado? EnCompass is looking for original essays that capture the uniqueness of our state. Payment is $60 upon publication. Entries must be typed, double-spaced and 200-300 words. Please include a daytime phone number. Entries will not be returned. Mail to EnCompass, Attn: My Colorado, 4100 E. Arkansas Ave., Denver, CO 80222, or e-mail: mailto:editor@colorado.aaa.com;webmaster@colorado.aaa.com?subject=Commentary.

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