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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.
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