Delmar resident Nola Royce sits on top of North Maroon Peak in Colorado with hiking buddies Bill Michels and Mark Cole. Royce recently completed summitting all 54 of Colorado’s peaks taller than 14,000 feet above sea level.
This journey began when my dear friend, Craig Geiselhart, moved to Colorado Springs and sent me a photo of Garden of the Gods. One trip out to visit and I was in love with the area. A few other friends lived in various parts of the state and I began coming out on a regular basis to hike, climb and ski.
Craig passed away in October of 2010 and I was very happy to have been able to call him from the summit of Little Bear to tell him of my success. He was there in spirit all the way with me and still is. He had introduced me to the mountains of upstate New York in the '70s and hiked with me there for several years, 'till he discovered fly fishing, surf casting and sailing and, as I remained the woman of the mountains, he became the man of the sea.
He never lost his enthusiasm for my crazy escapades, however, and as he sailed the world and I scaled bigger and bigger mountains, we continued to encourage each other’s dreams. It was a bitter sweet call, therefore, that I made to him from the top of Little Bear.
Other wonderful friends helped me scale the 54 peaks of Colorado, some of whom I met on those mountains and others I met on my travels to the Pamir, the Caucasus and Alaska. It was on one of my solo attempts in not-so-good weather to get up Mount Columbia, in Colorado's Collegiate Range, that I met Bill Michels. He was going fishing at Bear Lake and we chatted all the way up to my cut off for Columbia. We began to correspond and then hike a few of the easier peaks.
Bill, who is a native of Colorado, had been hunting and fishing his whole life, but hadn’t really considered doing hiking as an activity in its own right. Hanging out with me and my climbing friends, however, changed all that. We’ve paid it forward by introducing him to the joys of mountaineering to the point that he’s doing it on his own now, which is so nice to see.