October 2, 2007
By Stacey Kembel, Grand Junction, CO

“Remember, when hiking in Colorado, watch the weather carefully and use

common sense. You can easily get caught in a massive thunderstorm, especially when

hiking above timberline,” my dad warned me for what seemed like the hundredth time. I

had always heard my dad, but I never really listened to him or took him seriously until I

actually had an experience with Mother Nature herself.

The beautiful July sun was just beginning to peek out from behind the mountains

as we began our adventure for the day: a climb to the summit of one of Colorado’s

fourteeners. I was so excited that I could barely contain myself. In fact, I had waited for

this moment since last year when I attended Camp Redcloud and was told that I was too

young to do any real hiking. Now, however, I was thirteen and old enough to go with the

advanced group.

“Wow! What’s that?” screeched Elle. I glanced up and found myself face to face with an

enormous marmot basking in the sun. As I gazed around, more and more beauty caught

my eyes. Sparkling brooks wove lazily through wildflowers that dotted the hillsides

like paint on a painter’s pallet. Above, birds flew effortlessly in the fresh air as butterflies

fluttered about carelessly in search of food.

“Okay, time to stop for a quick break!” Pipi, our counselor announced as we

entered a meadow silhouetted with boulders. I chose a rock next to my friend Laura and

hungrily began searching for my orange. As I began to peel it, a dark shadow passed

overhead. Immediately I knew it was a cloud, and my mind flashed back to my dad’s

endless warnings. “One cloud is harmless,” I told myself as I bit into a juicy orange


“Hurry up!” Pipi warned, “We must continue on our way.” I scarfed down my

remaining orange and hauled my pack up onto my back.

The second portion of the journey was not as easy as the first. A discrete trail was

carved into the side of the mountain, and small pebbles made it nearly impossible to stay

on my feet. To make the matter even worse, clouds began rolling in on the horizon and

the low roll of thunder began to echo in the distance. But of course, I wasn’t worried at

all. “Thunderstorms can’t come on too fast,” I told myself. Plus, there was no way I was

heading back now with the summit in view.

Flash! A lightening bolt lit up the sky. “Start counting,” I told myself, “it’s safe if the

lightening and thunder are six seconds apart. One, two, three…twelve, thirteen, four…” Bang! the

thunder gave its warning. “I’m still safe,” I thought. So I continued on my climb. Flash! The

lightening lit up the sky once again, but this time the two elements of nature happened almost

simultaneously and the dark clouds began to spew forth rain.

“Run backwards!” I heard Pipi’s voice through the torrents of rain, “and don’t stop till you

reach the trees!” I felt my heart pounding with fear as I spun around. The rain drenched me, and I

was terrified as I raced for the cover of the trees. Suddenly, I lost my balance and tumbled onto my

knees. I winced with pain as the rain hit the fresh blood, but I couldn’t stop. Finally, the trees

were in the distance, and the meaning of my dad’s words began to settle in.

Many times in my life my parents have offered advice that I heard but never

chose to listen to. After this terrifying experience, I finally comprehended that maybe my

parents do know things that I don’t. I also discovered that part of maturity is understanding that

there are people in my life who know more than me and have many more experiences

than me. I realized that these people want to help and protect me. All I have to do is listen

to them.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!