From Barr camp I rolled on. I was able to make progress without using the leash and the willow walking stick attached to the World over the broad path for awhile. Not much later I was back to holding the World by a string with one arm, and getting the world past rocks and trees, keeping it from rolling off the path with the other.
My goal the second day was to get to The "A" frame, the shelter at timber line that is three miles from the summit. The trail became ever-steeper and narrow. Throughout the day I had to let pressure out of the World as it got warm and expanded to be able to maneuver between tight places. A balance between too hard and too soft had to be maintained. Too hard, and my arms ached from the impact against the boulders and trees. Just right, and the World would roll over the obstacles like a motor-cross tire, and my shoulder could absorb the constant redirection without jarring as much.
Not knowing what lay ahead seemed to be still a good thing. Often, as I would stop and catch my breath and look at the beauty around me, I would see someone who had passed me and now up above me. Then question, "How the World would get there?" The answer was, I would get it there. The "switch backs" where hidden from below and I'd never know where they would turn back up the mountain. At those corners is where I could sometimes rest while still allowing the joggers, walkers, and hikers a way past. There were other places I stopped where I could lean the World against two trees and only have to hold the string in case a wind blew. Other times when I was gasping for air, the World would be balanced against a tree on one side and a large boulder on the other. If a hiker bumped it too hard as they passed, my rest was over and I would have to resume the climbing of obstacles, none the same as the last.
On occasion, again, I would get a helpful push or words of encouragement. Telling my purpose was hard amid my constant labored breath. A man passed at mid-day with a slight Spanish accent who helped by encouraging me when I was overwhelmed inside by the mountain. All these runners were lapping me daily. Everyone was passing and I was plodding over boulders that they easily weaved through. Any stone sticking up more than a few inches required more than a simple push. As with this Spaniard (who had a striking resemblance to Adam Sandler), when I was in need; someone was there with an uplifting comment or a simple push over a boulder before they passed.
Was I in this for the recognition of getting to the top of Pike's Peak alone? No. Without all the help we have gotten along this walk across three states, Good people giving of themselves, I don't know that we could have gotten this far. I had struggled with my pride at times during the past three months. Wanting to walk over bridges or walk through the night in rain storms. Instead of seeing the sign of a flat bed truck stopped on the middle of the bridge, or six women at the edge of an all-night rain who were offering dinner and help to safety. Our relatives and friends who live with diabetes may need some little push or encouragement, even active help. Selfish pride would have gone against a part of the spirit of my walks and there was no question this mountain was the hardest thing I had ever done. My Uncle was getting my recognition for decades of staying alive with diabetes. I was doing this for those who climb that "Mountain". None of us can climb life's mountains alone.
As I approached the timber line, the path became close and, just before I got to the A-frame shelter, I had to let so much air out of the World in order to squeeze through that I could see over the top of it. The world almost made a flopping noise as it rolled. I got to the sign that overlooked the A-frame and I tied the World to it. I took of my pack and lay in the gypsum gravel. I rocked back and forth like a bear to smooth down the protruding pebbles and massaged my aching spine before finally relaxing for the first time since almost five that morning.
Some Boy Scouts and their leader were sitting on the rocks there at the sign also, and the leader was concerned at my apparent exhaustion. He asked if I was all right. I lied and said "Yes." After they left, I made my way to the A-frame. I could see the world from down in the cradle of the mountain gully where the timber line camp was, and I was confident no one would roll-off with the world. After looping the dog cable to the foundation of the A-frame so Nice (the hound dog) wouldn't chase the colony of chipmonks chirping and calling, I watched from the large Boulders that were rounded from advancing down the mountain over the years. This was avalanche country and here the evidence was clear. Putting on my rain slicker over my sweat-wet shirt and donning my winter cap, we lay on top of the nap-sack I had recieved from a person the night before. Cradling an ear in my boot hole (my boot was the perfect pillow) I was quickly asleep.
Soon other hikers arrived for the night. Three people came with two tents, a large and a small dog, and all the comforts of outdoor living. Then two more who came and made a fire for their steaks which they shared with Nice (the dog) and me. We had a good evening talking and getting to know one another. One was a seasoned outdoors-man, the other had made the peak a goal because he had turned back as a thirteen year old at timber line because of altitude sickness. Now he knew how to control it. His review of the symptoms and regulation of breath were very helpful for my final three miles. The other shared the confidence of experience. As we bedded-down, three more men came and piled in the A-frame. Nice had a room full of warm breath to protect and absorb.
Before the last three men came, the outdoors-man shared that he had wanted to raft down rivers in an effort to raise awareness for the disease his brother has, muscular dystrophy, and wanted to know how I do it. I quickly joked and said, "You grab a hold of the string, keep it taught with one hand, and use the other to spin it, like a wheel and an axle." I told him of the unconventional way I have gone about this quest with much success. I am always learning and always am open to help. This is just a mountain, and in no way the last thing I do to help the cause of diabetes. We all can do something for what we have passion, whether the gesture is big or little. Like Miley Cyress sings, "It's the climb". Our second day on the mountain was ended.