Amazing Kids! Magazine

Mountains to Climb (or Run Down)

By Ellison Van Scoy, Ohio


The rain pattered down on us as we hurried down the mountain. “Hustle!” Jay said, reminding us to keep moving. “Let’s go!” As we abided by his wishes and hustled through the rocks and mud, it was hard to believe that just a few minutes ago, I was staring at the most gorgeous lake I’d ever seen.

Every few years, my family drives to Colorado for a week over the summer. Whenever we go, my parents put us in this day camp for a few days. That sounds really lame, but it’s very fun. The camp encompasses hiking, ropes-courses, and more. Today, my group and I were doing a 6.1-mile hike to Lake Haiyaha. This lake was a pretty difficult hike because it was very steep, and half our group wanted to turn back, complaining several times throughout the route. As we sat on the huge, natural rocks that were positioned before the gorgeous turquoise water, however, none of us regretted it. Our counselor explained briefly that the water and its color came from some sort of algae inside of it as we climbed the rocks to get as close to the edge as possible.

Everything seemed so quiet and peaceful as we took pictures and soaked it all in. That is, until the thunder. When the huge clap sounded, it shocked all of us. The people in my group and I slid off the rocks we were perched on to look at my counselor for direction. Our head counselor, Jay, who was bilingual and quizzed us on Spanish terms the entire way up the mountain, looked far more serious now. He said something along the lines of, “We need to go.”

It didn’t take long for our other counselors to round up all the kids who were still climbing on big rocks. Far too soon, it was time to say goodbye to the beautiful Lake Haiyaha. I took my last look at the jewel-colored water and followed my friends single-file on the rock-covered path. The hike to Haiyaha itself was scenic, as our feet met not only dirt but fallen pine needles and small stones. We had passed through Alberta Falls and several other lakes on the way there. Before the thunder, my counselors told the group that the hike back down, which was three or four miles, would be just as scenic. We chose as a group to take this route instead of going back the way we came. But now, as we exited Haiyaha, I knew that this hike wasn’t going to be as scenic as it would be stressful.

We were just out of the rocky terrain of the lake when I felt the first little droplet of water. At first, I brushed it off, assuming it was nothing, but when others in my group began to call out that they felt rain, I suspected I was right. I shrugged my backpack off and put on my raincoat. Others followed suit, just in time for the sky to open up and dump rain on us as if people in the sky were pouring bucket after bucket onto our heads. When the huge BOOM startled me again, I could feel my heart beat fast. Those in my group expressed their fears of dying on this mountain. When their worries became mine, it stressed me out. My feet wanted to move faster on the slick ground as my heart beat faster and faster. Jay was leading our group, followed by my friends Olga and Anwen, then me. About 12 people walked behind me.

“Well, if I die today,” I heard my friend James joke from the back of the group, “I wish it wasn’t with you people.” I wondered genuinely how he was able to find humor in our situation, though his comment made me laugh a bit and forget that we were four miles away from the shuttle bus on a steep mountainside.

There were a few kids in the back of the group who were goofing off and walking slowly, slowly enough to make the group move like a turtle. It seemed that even in the rain, nothing could hurry these kids up. The front half of the trail began to move at a slightly faster pace, the droplets of rain encouraging us. Before that day, I had seldom seen lightning. I had some sort of belief that it’s silent. No, I learned in that moment that lightning cracks. With the sudden sound of lightning, anxiety pulsed through my veins as if charged by the strike. The thunder that followed the stripe of light was somehow louder than before.

“Hustle.” At first, we couldn’t hear our counselor over the rain. That’s when Jay turned around to face us and repeated himself. “Hustle,” he spoke simply, and that’s when he began to jog.

The mud sloshed and slid under my Nikes as I followed him, running down the trail. As thunder and lightning boomed above our heads in angry clouds, we fled the mountain in a line of bobbing raincoats and ponchos. Shut up, Ellison, I told myself. You aren’t going to die. All that I needed was a reminder. That’s when I felt it. The laughter. As I began to laugh, I felt all my fear drain out of me. My heart raced with a new sort of excitement. I raced down the mountain, grinning to myself in the light of the situation. Though we were still a while from the bottom, I was having the time of my life. The rain tapping on my coat, the huge thunder—it was an amazing adventure. As we neared the end of the slope, I could see the shuttle bus roll up, a gleaming, white beacon of hope. We waited briefly for the rest of the group to catch up with us before hastily climbing aboard.

I stared out the raindrop-stricken window, my heart still beating fast. Not from fear, though, from excitement. At that time, I didn’t realize how much the event would affect me as a person. Because of this hike, I learned that life is too short to take yourself so seriously. If you waste your time expecting the worst outcome, you’ll accomplish nothing and have an overall bad experience. Life can get me down sometimes, like how I felt when I heard the thunder. I was afraid, upset. Sometimes, it’s just better to not take yourself as seriously and have fun with things. The rain thumped against the window, and I smiled.