(9/26/06) Photo credits: Jeremy M and Glen O

I love this picture. The picture is very powerful. It conveys a dark image of hardship, a determined aura of focused intensity, and best of all, a hopeful glimmer of "Oh my God, we did it."

In this picture we had just completed Trilogy Challenge I, which was climbing to the top of Mt. Whitney, and were clinging to every bit of warmth encapsulated in this small stone cabin on top of the highest point of the contiguous United States.

Arnold Glasgow once wrote, "Nothing splendid was ever created in cold blood. Heat is required to forge anything. Every great accomplishment is the story of a flaming heart."

Huddled together in this rustic dark cold cabin, our hearts flamed fiercely. We we're warm.

Our journey started in darkness. It was midnight when we began our adventurous trek up Mt. Whitney. With headlamps turned off, we silently stepped through a forbidding landscape with towering pinnacles amidst the glow of a near full moon.

After recovering from a cold all week, I was the last in the group to power up the ninety nine switchbacks to Trail Crest. It was so cold my fingers were seiged by frostbite. One of my fingers is still in slow recovery to this day.

As we neared the top, twilight started to cast its glow on the heavens above. We we're so high, maybe I should say twilight cast its glow upon us.

Yet, I was determined to reach the summit before sunrise as planned. With still some distance to go, I picked up my pace and with controlled, but labored breathing in this oxygen deprived environment, my soul entered a new realm, one of not just having a dream, but one of making that dream come true. In the last half mile to the top, my mind flashbacked through all the trials in my life and the constant attacks to undermine my self-esteem, my confidence, my spirit...

As the cabin and the summit came into view, something in me broke. The powerful record that played incessantly since I was a small child, "I can't do this"...