False Peaks and the Struggles of Life

Mount Elbert Leadville ColoradoHiking up Mt. Elbert is remarkably similar to the journey of life. You see, false peaks are inevitable. But, you don’t always recognize them.

Mt. Elbert comes in at 14,433 feet. It is the highest peak in Colorado and the second highest point in the continental U.S. The difficulty rating for the hike is advanced as the elevation gain is approximately 4,700 ft. It is recommended that a hiker starts early morning (5-6am) as thunderstorms are common in the early afternoon hours. Round trip for the hike (depending on the trail chosen) is between 8-12 hours.

It isn’t the physical part of the hike that is tough. Most are able.

As in life, it is the mental aspect that will decide.

When walking the trail in the forest one can see only forest. There aren’t any views of the peak. It is with reason that a person has a moment of jubilation when exiting the conifers. The very point of triumph is within view.

But, is it the point of triumph?

No. Much like life, there is further to go. Nothing has been decided.

Kind of funny how we have the capacity at times to tell ourselves exactly what we want to hear. I knew that the hike would take about 3 and a half hours of steady walking. With two children, my son on my back and my daughter (8) hiking along with my wife and I, we stopped a bit more than a three or four hour pace would allow.

So why did I tell myself that the peak was in sight after two hours?

For one, it was the highest thing evident from my vantage point. The other thing is that I wanted it to be.

“…I wanted it to be.”

Continuing on our hike we struck up a conversation with a fellow who was making his descent. I said hello and then made a comment about us almost being to the peak. In a kind and gentle way he said, “That’s a false peak. There are two more false peaks to go after that.”  I thanked him and moved on.

Keeping it real – The oddest thing is that I didn’t believe the guy. Seriously. I was thinking to myself, “Yeah, okay. Sure. Funny.”

Again, I wanted that to be the peak. After all, we had hiked two strenuous hours already. Wasn’t that enough?

My wife stayed back at that point with our youngest.

My nine year old and I plodded on.

As we neared the top of this peak it became evident that another awaited us. It was at this time that I became a believer. I hadn’t happened across a secret passage that allowed a short cut. I didn’t get instant access. If I wanted to get to the top, I had to do it like everyone before me. I had to do the work.

My brave daughter decided painfully that she could not go on even after another break. I proudly watched her make her way down to the plateau below where my wife and son were peacefully napping.

After seeing her reach the resting place, I continued.

Keeping it real – The little voice in my head let me in on a few secrets: “You aren’t going to make it. It’s only going to get worse. What is the point anyway? You won’t be the only quitter. Other people have quit also.”

I listened to every word the voice was saying. And, I kept hiking.

And, I kept hiking.

About three-quarters up this false peak, another came into view. At the same time I spied this peak a gentleman was descending. As he approached I asked him how the view at the top was. He didn’t look at me or even slow up. He just said, “I don’t know” and kept walking. That stayed with me as I continued. Had he gotten hurt in a way that wasn’t evident? Were the false peaks too much? How far had he made it?

I finally caught a glimpse of the real peak nearing the top of the third and final false peak. I kept walking, only with a little more pep. I could now clearly see the true pinnacle of my effort before me.

Keeping it real – I felt like asking if the mountain itself had thought the false peaks were humorous. I wanted to reverse kick a few feet off the mountain top and lower its ranking a notch or two.

Instead, I kept going.

After roughly four hours of hiking, I reached the summit of Mt. Elbert. As I looked around the mountain seemed to be saying, “Here.” That’s it. There wasn’t clapping and yelling, but just, “Here”.


As if to say, “You’ve gotten exactly what you deserve. No more, no less. You decide if it was worth the effort, because that’s what I offer. But, I won’t congratulate you, it wouldn’t be honest.”

No one else atop the mountain congratulated me either. And I, no one. We said hello and made eye contact. That was enough. We understood each other. We arrived the same way.

I sat for a while as the wind touched my face. It felt good. I started down as the clouds rolled in.

The Takeaways

There are many false peaks in life. There are times when we believe that our effort was enough. There are other times when we just want to believe our efforts were enough, but know they weren’t.

We will know our efforts were enough when we reach the top.

There are people that want to sincerely help. They want to shorten our learning curve. They want to ease growing pains.

We must be willing to listen.

That little voice will put the hammer on us when we least expect it. When looking for encouragement, we may not get it, especially from ourselves.

We must, must, must press on. We must do this because or in spite of what we hear.

It takes effort to reach any goal. There are some places in life that don’t offer shortcuts. We must take the only way available.

You can only decide if the effort was worth it, when the proper amount of effort is applied and the destination has been reached.

Are you ready to fight through the false peaks offered by life? Are you ready to keep climbing even as your mind and body say no?

I hope this is your time. I hope this post inspired you to start climbing or to just keep on climbing. I hope you enjoy the view at the top.

I want you to know that today really does have power. If, you want it to.

Remember, you are the only you, you have.

So, live it.


Live it LOUD!

This entry was posted in Motivation. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to False Peaks and the Struggles of Life

  1. Mika Castro says:

    The ones who don’t know about this has an immature soul. As soon as a human loses his courage to go through the struggle of life, the burden of the world falls and going deep on his head. However, when he goes on struggling through life, he alone makes his way. According to this topic about struggle, this is very inspiring and guide for all who do not know what will you gain after having an effort on what you do.

  2. Hi Rob,
    What a great story and a wonderful way to illustrate the different challenges of the journey! I love “here”. We believe it will FEEL different, but essentially, we always feel the way we always feel, don’t we.
    Even the summit feeling is fleeting, but worth the effort and bragging rights and something to savour! 😉

    • Rob says:

      Hey Lori,

      So many parallels with life itself. False hope at times, misplaced ‘feelings’, and then, that switch inside us that gets turned on. That switch that says there is no turning back. I might fail but it won’t be this time. I do believe parts of the summit feeling to be fleeting, but as in life, there will always be that part that says, “Remember when we summited? This next challenge pales in comparison.” Further foundation if you will. Most of us can use more foundation. Comes in handy.
      Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

      Live it LOUD!

  3. Well done!
    You really pushed yourself.

    What is interesting is how you monitored your thoughts.
    I was very surprised when reading a course on psychology a series of studies that had proved that, the closer you are to succeeding the more afraid you get of success and the more you want to quit and run away.

    Sure your motivation increases as well but even more so the fear and avoidance mechanism gets stronger.

    When you are nearing your goal your whole being will be screaming “GIVE UP!” that is when it is most important to push on because you have almost made it, well done to not give up!

    • Rob says:

      Hey Daniel,

      Excellent points. Pushing past discomfort is essential. That discomfort can be physical or mental. We must push past the feelings and just do the thing; whatever it is. The time is never perfect. We must push in spite of anything and everything. The peak can be reached.
      We must only commit. Thanks Daniel for the insight.

      Live it LOUD!

  4. Rosalia says:

    By viewing this post a beautiful proverb is coming in my mind that is “Work is worship”. If you want to achieve your goal, you need to work hard and struggle and the pave the way to your destiny. It is a very nice post.

    • Rob says:

      Hey Rosalia,

      Always great to have new readers leave comments (and old ones too:). Indeed, pave the way to your destiny. Love that.
      Thanks for stopping.

      Live it LOUD!

  5. Congrats Rob on making it to the top of the Peak. This story is a great analogy for life.

    Where are the pics of Mt Elbert. 🙂

    • Rob says:

      Hey Justin,

      Thanks man. This was a while back but was on my mind to post. Speaking of false peaks (or letdowns), computer crash destroyed many pictures. We were able to save some from the pile but now they aren’t in any kind of order and there are thousands. I might also add that my wife carries her camera everywhere, so when I mention saving some pictures…our some may be a bit more than others’ some. If we locate any, I will add them for sure.

      By the way, you might want to read up on the Leadville race (town at the base of Elbert).

      The following from their site:
      ‘Leadville Trail 100 Run | August 18-19, 2012
      This is it. The race where legends are created — and limits are tested. One hundred miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain — from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet. You will give the mountain respect, and earn it from all.’

      Sounds fun, no?

      Live it LOUD!

  6. Penelope J. says:

    This story has power! A true story but a great allegory for what we face in life. Sometimes, it’s hard to push on past those false peaks especially when you think that each one is the last. But I will keep pushing on, as long as I have energy and life, to reach that ultimate peak. Occasionally, those false peaks have stopped me. I can’t bear the idea of trudging on only to find that I’ve reached yet another one but like you, the knowledge that I can reach the real peak takes me back on the path and I keep going.

  7. Steve says:


    This is a very encouraging blog post. It requires a lot of patience and persistence to reach success. I succeeded in life and reached an acme and then I fell down. One thing I needed to realize is to be persistent so that I can remain balanced on acme of success. Thanks for sharing you brilliant experiences.

    • Rob says:

      Thank you Steve for your kindness. Life is about falling down and getting back up again. I’m glad that has come together for you. There always has to be one more try left. It isn’t a pretty site when one quits trying.

      Thanks Steve and keep Living it LOUD!

  8. Rob,

    You brought back some great memories of my experience climbing Mt. Fuji in Japan. Thanks for the reminder.

    Your analysis of your experience is excellent!

    When I climbed Mt. Fuji with my friends, we chose to descend via a different route. The point was to experience two different routes, but the great thing was that it left everyone with little choice other than moving on. No one was coming back the same route, so giving up and resting there while the others come back was not an option.

    I had the experience of false peaks too! It was disappointing at times, but seeing those milestones was at the same time very motivating too!

    To me, climbing mt. Fuji was a great learning experience. Moving on even though knees and ankles hurt so bad, and the weather was biting cold, was memorable to say the least. Further, once we were on top, the thought that we still had to go down the hill with those aching legs was a torture. To top it all, we had chosen a steep route for our descent.

    Your words “No one else atop the mountain congratulated me either. And I, no one. We said hello and made eye contact. That was enough. We understood each other. We arrived the same way.” have great meaning. Life is the same! When you get on top, you only see that there are others who have made it there too. There is not much appreciation. But having said that, there is no substitute for the self-satisfaction that comes from accomplishing the task.


  9. Geoff says:

    I have to say that the ones who don’t know about this has an immature soul. As quickly as a human loses his courage to go through the struggle of existence, the burden of the globe falls and going deep on his head. However, when he goes on struggling through life, he on your own makes his way. In accordance to this topic about battle, this is very inspiring and guide for all who do not know what will you acquire following getting an effort on what you do.

  10. Leonor Miller says:

    Congrats Rob. You’re an inspiration. You never give up the challenges in your life. You have the courage and the guts to push through your challenges. We all must not give up in our life. Every failure has it’s lesson. So don’t give up on any challenges in your life.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks Leonor. I wish it were true. But, alas, the reason I’m better able to stick with things now is because of the remarkable amount of quitting I practiced. Today really does have power though. So, whether deciding to lose the weight or write that book, it can begin with intentional action today.

      Live it LOUD!

  11. Hey Rob, this is awesome! Loved the story and loved the takeaways. And I also love hiking in Colorado. My brother lives up on Conifer. I went to visit a year ago and we went on a 4-5 hour hike in some of the most beautiful country I’ve been in (shame about the trees though. So many are dead, skeletal trees standing tall, but lifeless!). One of my favorite things to do was while we were lower on the mountain, we could pick wild raspberries as we hiked.

    While I don’t recall what mountain we hiked, I do remember the false peaks and steep climbs!

    Life truly is a lot like hiking: Like you said, life rewards those who keep going even when it appears we’ve “made it.” There will be times of self-doubt and faltering confidence. But you had it just exactly right: keep going anyway!

    Again, Rob, just awesome!

    • Rob says:

      Hey Ken,

      I am familiar with Conifer. I actually delivered cars to Evergreen a while back while I was still driving a truck. The mountains are beautiful but not so enjoyable while driving a semi-truck! I do love Colorado and plan on settling there after our RV adventure ends (and it hasn’t started yet, but soon).

      “Keep going anyway…” yes indeed.
      Most of the names we know and hear are the ones who didn’t quit. We get to choose which we want to be.

      Thanks so much for sharing great memories my friend. I am a sucker for Colorado hiking stories 🙂

      Live it LOUD!

  12. This is a very inspiring blog post, you show true determination! Awesome post 🙂

  13. Parisa says:

    thank you for the awesome post, I enjoyed reading it. very inspirational indeed, sometimes we need reminders like this to gather our selves and set back on track. thank you

  14. Sophia says:

    It is a inspiring story, I like your blog, thank you for your sharing story. Life is same as journey, we are pursuing to reach peek and making effort. No matter what is the result and payment, we should enjoy the course, right? 🙂

    • Rob says:

      Yes Sophia,

      We should enjoy the course! Nothing is ever perfect, so we might as well enjoy the steps along the way.
      Thanks so much for the visit.

      Live it LOUD!

  15. I loved this story when you told it to me, Rob, and it’s doubly vivid written out like this with your thoughts along the way! This is such a great analogy for life and I really appreciate learning about the end part of this story too. That was a new part for me — that we ultimately decide if we had put in sufficient effort. It shouldn’t be about waiting for someone or something to validate us. We know for ourselves and should value ourselves!

    • Rob says:

      Hey Sam!

      Always awesome to see (read) you:) Me and the family miss you my friend. As for this post, you actually were listening when I told that boring story? 🙂
      Hope all is well and we look forward to touching base soon.

      Thanks for the warm words and visit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *