Eighteen strong, sweating and hiking with fifty pound packs,
Three weeks deep in mid-summer, carrying our worlds on our backs,
When the red bearded man appeared in snow shoes over the pass,
G.I. Joe man Outback, waving his arms and pointing back towards the ridge.
Like beer foam, the clouds spilled over into the three-quarter basin,
And the mountain storm brewed, roiling rapidly in our direction.
We dropped our gear while he shouted us into the gully;
Scattered fetal teenagers, we thought we were going to die.
Separated from the group, and huddled on my foam pad,
Like a Muslim on a mountainside, praying in the wrong direction,
I pulled the steel rims from my face and tucked them under me.
I could hear the others at a distance, every one terrified.
Heavy, grey, billowing monsters, greedily swallowed up the sun.
When the lightning struck between us, I could feel its heat.
The hairs stood erect on my forearms. Thunder growled, and hail fell from the sky,
Like golf balls, relentlessly pelting my spine, that day on Treasure Mountain.
Up where the marmots live, they eat your socks if you leave them out,
And there is no help for miles, where the ice persists thick into July -
Then like a snap it was over, and for the others hypothermic shock set in,
But I couldn't feel it; Aged seventeen and flying high on adrenaline.
Fifteen people split and climbed inside two, three person tents,
Boys and girls in underwear huddled together for body heat,
While I collected the gear, and the three adults boiled water.
Everything would be alright, they responsibly repeated to my peers.
An hour later everyone was dressed, packed, and hiking up to base camp.
We would talk by the campfire, laughing as if it were any other repast,
As if every one of us hadn't just seen our lives flash before our eyes.
That night we tried to sleep, up there on Treasure Mountain.
Adrenaline still coursing through my veins, I tossed and turned all night.
The next morning we trained for ice climbing, but my stomach wasn't right.
That evening found me trowel-handed often, between shivers and shakes.
On the third day, finally coming down from my high, I knew I couldn't climb.
So while I cuddled in my Thinsulate, the others examined the horizontal ice sheet.
Sun beat down on its pale face like a spiteful child in judgment of those softening crystals.
Clearly no pick ax or crampon would hold fast, that final day on Treasure Mountain.
They returned to find me, trembling and feverish at over thirteen thousand feet.
Our window was closed. We struck the camp and I searched my soul,
Scrapping for the willpower to hike back down into the reassuring arms of civilization.
The very burden of existence; my pack felt heavy as lead, and my legs were tired as eternity.
My eyes trained on my feet, while my mind boiled inside a blistering flesh cauldron of fire.
This time, there was no leprechaun spotted at the end of a Rocky Mountain rainbow,
No cavern of riches guarded by a ferocious, slumbering, fire-breathing dragon,
No ancient, mislaid prospectors cache, nor long forgotten bandits stash.
Our map led us on that journey, to an entirely different vein of reward.
Now with that day a memory, through faded decades, tell me how you think I'll cave.
For I am standing now, having once been brought low up on that high ground,
Where the marmots ate my socks, and I felt the heat of lightning. You must realize,
When the sum purpose of life was breathing, I survived Treasure Mountain.