12,532 feet. While short in comparison to the great mountains of the world Cerro Chirripo, the highest mountain in Central America, proved to be just enough to allow for a complete escape from the hustle and bustle of the everyday world.
The trip came at a time when my life was in flux and it allowed for a time of reflection and appreciation. When I summited the mountain, I left base camp at 2:00 in the morning, alone, with only a headlamp to guide me up the last 5,000 feet. I reached the summit at 3:30 in the morning, shut off my light and had the pleasure of seeing four beautiful acts of nature simultaneously: a lightning storm over the Pacific, a lightning storm over the Atlantic, an active volcano in Guatemala, and shooting stars overhead.
Although the solitude weaned as the sun rose with other hikers reaching the summit, the expressions of pure joy and shouts of accomplishment from the others added a whole different level of surrealness to the moment.
In the end, pictures can only convey so much about a place. However, if they convey even a portion of the beauty of Cerro Chirripo, it will be a good day.