It was a simple little board game. Actually made of flimsy cardboard. But we played it often and had lots of fun. The game came from the Shell gas station and was entirely based on traveling around the country in a motor car with Shell gas as a partner.
As a girl, my favorite place to land was the square that said “Fill up with Shell gas. Take Pikes Peak in high.”
At the time, I thought of mountains in terms of Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks. And not until many years later would I understand the significance of traveling up a 14,000-foot mountain in high gear, especially, with yesterday’s roads and yesterday’s cars.
Years later, I actually went to the top of Pikes Peak in a hair-raising ride that I will never repeat. I simply can’t forget the terrifying feeling of looking straight down to nowhere directly out of my car window.
It’s that memory that puts me so much in awe of the member of our vacation party who climbed the celebrated mountain on foot earlier this month.
The group of hikers climbed steep peaks and descended into valleys. They walked mountain ridges far above tree line. And then hours later when already exhausted, had to climb over enormous boulders to reach the pinnacle. Eight hours in all–five going up and three coming down.
That’s a feat that Zebulon Montgomery Pike should have admired.
Pike was a mere 27 years old when he became the first white man to see the mountain that would later be named for him. He estimated it to be 20,000 feet tall and in November of 1806 attempted to scale its height.
After failing to get to the top, Pike haughtily declared the feat unachievable and announced that no one would ever climb his newly-discovered mountain.
Zebulon Montgomery Pike was no laggard. Starting at the young age of 26, Pike led expeditions to find the headwaters of the Mississippi and other rivers. He negotiated treaties with Indians and was sent to explore the Southwest.
His bravery and endurance were legendary, and he died in battle at the age of 34.
About the only thing Zebulon Montgomery Pike failed to do was make it to the top of Pikes Peak. And that would have been all right. Not everyone has to do everything.
What’s hard to understand is why Pike would assume that just because he and his men couldn’t do it on the first try, no one in the history of the world would ever be able to get to the top of Pikes Peak.
Only 80 years later, Zalmon Simmons, the founder of the Simmons Mattress Co., rode a burro up the peak and said, “There must be a more comfortable way to reach the summit of Pikes Peak.”
He began to plan immediately for the cog railway that is still in existence.
In the summer of 1893, Katharine Lee Bates traveled to the top in a wagon, with Woodrow Wilson as a member of the party. Stunned by “the purple mountain majesties” she penned the words to “America the Beautiful.” And people have been going up Pikes Peak ever since. Thousands of them every year by every conceivable means of transportation.
So what about you, have you ever been tempted to label the difficult impossible? If so, remind yourself right now that nothing is impossible unless you make it so.

Posted in Uncategorized