Day 7: Sunday, August 10
To say that we’d made it to Sunday already would be a little disingenuous. We had boarded our cruise ship of a charter bus at the hotel by 9:30 p.m. and were off to the races; a 15-hour race that would take us through three states to be exact.
Most of us attempted to get to sleep immediately. While, the floor didn’t seem like the best place to sleep, with the engines below keeping it warm and plenty of room to stretch out our legs, it became a king-sized bed in Cabo compared to the seats. So, after all the calls home had been doled out, we slept.
To my surprise, the 15-hour trek was far less miserable than anticipated. Sure, it’s not the most comfortable, and yeah, the lavatory smells, but our 15 hours flew by. After suffering through a 6 a.m. breakfast at McDonald’s, we were about 5 hours away and getting restless, so naturally we played Mafia.
With little difficulty, and thanks to some fearless maneuvering from our bus driver, we arrived at AEI Base Camp in Almont, Colorado. Going from an elevation of 700 feet to 10,000 feet didn’t seem bad until we unloaded. Carrying around luggage that we had dragged across Texas for the past week became tiresome, and I was out of breath already. That was a red flag. Thankfully, the rest of the afternoon was set aside to explore the valley, nap and adjust to the elevation.
That night, we took a short walk to another part of the grounds where we had the best camp burgers and baked beans I’ve ever put in my mouth. After we had finished eating, board member David Pearson shared some of his testimony and set a tone of openness and vulnerability for the rest of the week. He explained how much more important BYX becomes after college and the impact that his cell group, which he still meets with weekly after 15 years, has had on his life as well as his marriage. God was moving. It was only the first night and it was already awesome.
Day 8: Monday, August 11
Morning came early and we were going by 7:15 a.m., beginning with a group devotion time. After a short time for personal time with the Lord, we met back up at the mess hall for breakfast. The group learned a name quickly: Cindy. She was our cook, and she was dang good at it. For the week that we spent in a remote valley with no service, we ate like kings. After breakfast, we set out to find ourselves a rock, particularly a rock we could climb. We did, and with some battle scars gained along the way, a good time was had by all.
After lunch and a short break back at camp, we split into two groups and set out on an Adventure Race around the camp that led to a number of wet and muddy shoes as a result of a brave and/or stupid decision to run through a swamp. Looking back, the time saved wasn’t worth the trek but the experience itself absolutely was.
After dinner and fitting gear for our hike into the back country, we debriefed the day and heard again from David Pearson as he spoke on dying to the things of this world and seeking opportunities to elevate the people around you. The impromptu worship session that followed was incredible. In popcorn style, guys would start songs and the group would join in. It was truly amazing seeing 24 other guys genuinely giving everything they had to worship the King.
Day 9: Tuesday, August 12
I will never, ever be a morning person. Again we woke up at 6:45 and after devotion and breakfast, we put on our still muddy shoes and left for the high ropes course. I think balance is something we tend to take for granted. Walking on aircraft cable 20 feet in the air gets a lot more intense when all you’ve got to hold onto is a person’s arm knowing they’re held only upright by a rope they aren’t attached to. All in all, we got our fill of trapeze jumps, zip lines and the occasional fall. By this point, our shoes were dry so we decided we better eat lunch. Cindy again did her best, and we loved her for it.
Two of guides, Cameron and Josh, handed out our group gear and food we would take on our overnight hike and promptly filled our packs, and by 2:30 p.m. we were off to climb a mountain. Unfortunately our group was too large to take on one trail so we again divided evenly, and set out to conquer two peaks: Mt. Silver and Mt. Ann.
I hiked Mt. Silver, and because it was a bit further from the camp than Mt. Ann, we had to take a van to a drop point. Remember how I said our shoes were dry? It didn’t matter much because it started raining while on the way. Several miles and a semi-wet hike later, we made it to our base camp at about 11,000 feet, set up our tents, ate a quick dinner and got to sleep as soon as possible, anticipating the feat we would soon accomplish.