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Champions of Different Levels This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   I awoke to rain. When I looked at the makeshiftclothesline stretched across our tent, I saw yesterday's shorts, socksand shirts recovering. The smell of unwashed bodies was strong; it wasour fourth day in the lower Rocky Mountains. Despite this, as I lay inmy nylon prison, I managed to find comfort in the thought that it waspeak day.

It was time to push for the 14,000 foot high summit ofMarble Mountain. As I stretched and focused on the morning sun, Iwatched fellow campers make their way out of their tents. I gatheredfrom the morning mumble that they shared my enthusiasm.

After wewere assembled, we ate breakfast, filled our daypacks for the journeyand set out along the water we were camped beside. It perfectlyreflected the shoreline of trees, but the mirror shattered as a brooktrout surfaced for a fly.

We made our way across the valley andstarted up the incline. I heard one hiker say, "This isn't so bad,"but I kept my mouth shut, knowing everyone's mouths would soon be hushedby burning leg muscles and altitude. Finally we came to what I knewwould be their muzzle. We were at the base of a saddle (a geographicalstructure between two mountain peaks) with an incline sane people woulduse harnesses and ropes to climb. Reluctantly, we began to scale thealmost vertical incline. Frequent breaks were necessary. The saddle wasa whipping post and we were tied to it.

It took almost two hoursto scale the saddle, and then the peak was in sight, which made our goalmore realistic. Many were tired, but determination drove themon.

As our feet grew heavier we noticed a group of our hikerswas falling behind. Our guide went to check it out.

Hereported, "They've decided to stop where they are and not push forthe summit."

Our hearts sank because we wanted to get to thetop as a group, but we pressed on. When we were within 50 yards, theremaining hikers began to run and exploded onto the summit. The seven ofus who made it were on top of the world. We could see for miles, evenspotting Pike's Peak, which our guide told us was over 30 miles away.The greatest feeling was signing our names on the note pad we found in aglass jar. It kept track of those who made it to the top.

Thefrightening smell of rain filled our nostrils as we stood in theheavens, but we shot many rolls of film before starting our descent. Weraced the fast-approaching storm down to the saddle. Rejoining thegroup, we noticed they were in surprisingly good spirits.

Theywere proud of us for making it to the summit, but also proud ofthemselves for making it as far as they did, which wasn't easy. Itdawned on me what an inspirational moment it was. The group that stayedbehind had more self-respect and confidence than many. Everyone hasstrengths and weaknesses, the key is to know them and be proud of whatyou know you are good at. You are already miles ahead if you recognizeyour weaknesses but take pride in the personal goals you achieve.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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