My spiritual journey began 8 months before this photo was taken. I had reached a point in my life where drugs and alcohol had become the driving force behind my existence. I was lost and had no power over the decision to drink and use. It had been engrained into my very being that I was to live the rest of my life, intoxicated and miserable. What happened next was the most important moment in my life. I checked into Purple. I was a retread, that is, I had been through the Purple program once before. Humbled by my addiction and embarrassed that I had relapsed I came back with the expectation that I was less than everyone at the facility.  The moment I walked through the doors I was greeted with smiles and hugs. People were happy to see me. This was something I wasn’t used to, something new.  New experiences began to flood my day to day life. I began calling a sponsor every day.  Conversations with him and the guys in treatment gave me a new feeling of connection. I started building friendships. I started building goals. I started looking toward the future with a new feeling of hope. The promises were coming true.  I had no idea the journey God had in store for me. A few months after I had graduated I was invited to join something called Epic Trek.  I didn’t know much about this experience other than it was going to be an adventure. Over the course of my treatment I had learned to welcome adventure whenever it was thrown my way, so I decided to go on Epic trek.  On our trip we were to summit a mountain with an elevation above 14,000 feet.  I had never done anything this hard before.   The staff at purple began training me to endure such a feat.   We met in the woods once a week and ran trails for hours.  There is something spiritual about this, and like my experience in treatment it was a new experience to find spirituality in something like running. I hated running, but I grew to enjoy the fellowship and mental state a long trail run put me in.  I began to learn to run through the pain.  I learned that running is a form of moving meditation and gave me the ability to seek a higher power for strength when I felt I had nothing left to give.   This was a powerful experience for me.  These training sessions went on for two months.  The time had come to fly out to Colorado.  When we landed we, all gathered our things and set off for our lodge.  The next few days were spent acclimating to the elevation and jumping off cliffs to alleviate our anxieties about our summit.  One of the days we spent on four wheelers in the Colorado wilderness.  The mountains, the trees, the trails, and my friends all reflected the great beauty that God had offered to me.  I found myself surrounded by God and final the day came to summit La Plata Peak.  My friend and I had decided to take the harder route, against the wishes of staff.  We had trained hard and knew that we could make it.  That’s the funny thing about spiritual growth; when you put in the work you have faith that can move mountains, literally. The ascent began at 3:30 am.  We set off into the woods and began climbing a massive boulder field. This took about 2 hours.  Once we were through the boulders we reached a grassy plain littered with wild flowers.  The sun began to rise and I began to feel the heat radiating onto my skin.  The next four hours were a treacherous climb along the spine of Ellingwood ridge.  Huge towers of rock jutted out towards the sky and going around them meant we would not summit in time so we climbed to the top and began the careful navigation, jumping from one rock to the next.  As I came near the summit I looked back at the ridge I had just climbed and something came over me.  It was like I was looking back on the past 8 months of my life.  From the beginning when I got sober to this exact moment right where I was standing.  I remembered working the steps with my sponsor and how hard it was to face the person I had become in my addiction.  I became overwhelmed with gratitude. I had built friendships stronger than ever before and I had learned to love myself, flaws and all.  I began to have trouble breathing and tears swelled my eyes. I looked at my friend and we both hugged each other. God taught me a lesson that day.  That with hard work, I can do anything.