Monday, January 12, 2009

Remembering Lygon Stevens.

Last August I had the opportunity to climb Longs Peak with a large group of people I had never met before. Not my usual style, I prefer to know my climbing partners. But this was a special case. For starters, I had only been in Colorado for 1 week and didn't know anyone besides my wife and a few others. The real reason was that I had gotten plugged into an organization called Climbers For Christ while I was in CT, and though it wasn't very active in CT, it is much more active here. So I caught wind that they were doing a climb of Longs Peak the weekend after I got back from my honeymoon, and this climb was to be in memory of a girl named Lygon Stevens. Count me in.

Time for the back story. Once I knew I was moving to Colorado a year or two ago, I started spending lots of time on trying to soak up and learn everything I could about the glorious mountains I would soon call home. One day I came across a thread about a young girl who had been caught in an avalanche on Little Bear mountain, which is one of the 56 mountains in Colorado over 14,000 ft. Within the post about Lygon was a link to another forum on the Climbing for Christ webpage, which I had never visited or even heard of. I followed the link to find out more, and not only found what I knew I was looking for, but also found what I didn't know I was looking for. A community of Christian climbers. When I barely even knew who she was, Lygon had already made a difference in my life. I had made a post on the Climbing For Christ webpage and then eventually fell out of touch with the situation. That is until I got back from my Honeymoon on a wednesday night, went online, and found out that there was a memorial climb on that saturday. I contacted Nick Stevens, who was the event coordinator and is the father of Lygon, and told him that I would love to come along to hike and also document the day with my camera. He said it would be great to have me along, and that was that.

Longs Peak is a looong day (hence the name?), and you need to start the mountain around 2-3am in order to beat the afternoon thunderstorms. So what do I do, I show up 45 minutes late and miss the group start. Now I'm hiking in the dark, as fast as I can can, trying to catch up to a group of people I've never met before. This was terribly unsuccessful, since I hiked right by almost the entire group. I got to a wide open area called the boulderfield, which is a good resting stop. By now it was slightly daytime, and you could actually see people. There were quite a few groups taking breaks, so I made my circuit, trying to figure which one I belonged to. Finally I saw a hat that said "C4C"... Bingo! Introductions were made, we rested and chatted while the group grew with new arrivals. As we set off on the upper half of the mountain, the altitude started kicking in. Soon all the people whom I had passed on the way up were passing me. Suddenly the pictures went from peoples faces to their backs. Getting to the top sure was a struggle, but it was certainly worth it. On the top the whole group slowly congregated for the first time since the start I had missed.

During the whole course of the day, I slowly got to know a family who had suffered a terrible loss, but was somehow still filled with an abounding joy for life and a love for God. It was a great day that I won't forget, and I came home with some pictures I really liked. This post was spurred by an email I received from Nick, which contained a hyperlink. The Denver Channel 7 had just run a story on Lygon and the book her family had compiled of her excellent journal writings.

Here is the news story on Lygon. It is certainly worth checking out.

Here is the gallery containing the rest of the pictures from the Climb.

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