An Amazing Mountain Climbing Adventure for Empty Nesters

Please welcome our newest Guest Adventurer Liz Reiman from Jacksonville, Florida. Liz and her husband Jim, met in college at Wake Forest University in 1980. Thirty plus years later they are still happily married with four grown children Rob (26) third-year medical student in Brooklyn, Chris (25) business exec in Dallas, Jack (23) starting new job at Wal-Mart HQ in Arkansas in data analytics and Tori (21) senior at Florida State – throws discus and majors in Children and Family Sciences (!)

When Tori left for FSU in 2012, Liz was getting ready to turn 50. Their son Chris graduated from FSU and moved to Dallas that same summer. Her sister got divorced and moved away to Colorado. Boy, 2012 was rough! Liz and Jim made plans for the mountain climbing adventures to start in the summer of 2013! Liz even started Crossfit in Feb 2013 in preparation…  she was ready to overcome a possible mid-life crisis!

mountain climbing
Liz and Jim at the summit of the Mount of the Holy Cross ~ June 2013


Liz’s Story of Mountain Climbing ~

When we were celebrating a family reunion in Colorado in 2013, we decided to climb a 14er (mountain over 14,000′). NONE of our 4 adult children were interested. They thought hiking all day sounded awful. They were up for 2-4 hour hikes, but 12 hours? No way. I was 50, and Jim was 52, and we were eager for adventure.

Our nest emptied out in 2012, and we were looking for something to make our spirits soar. I got obsessed with the Mount of the Holy Cross, the only 14er near Vail, CO. In spring, the snow melts so that in the crevices of the mountain, a bit of snow still clings in the shape of a cross. It’s the kind of place that pioneer women would hike to in their long wool skirts and button-up boots. If they could do it, so could we!


We were able to summit The Mount of the Holy Cross by hiking from the trailhead at about 6:30 a.m. returning safely to the parking lot around 6:30 p.m. What an exhausting but WONDERFUL accomplishment. It became a metaphor for life…. our hard road up up up for 29 years of marriage, working, having 4 kids, and all the stuff that goes along with it.


Now we are on the downhill side, right? But wait, it’s even more challenging than going up, we found. We are tired. We needed to rest more. We were wondering if we could last. But the view back up where we just came from was amazing. The trail itself was a new challenge. Anyway, it became a motivation to climb again. That was just the beginning!



mountain climbing
Our youngest daughter Tori, on the day we arrived and first saw the mountain in person.



I also included a photo of some original art by Lou Renner that we actually commissioned for our 30th anniversary to commemorate the event.  We climbed in June 2013, but our 30th was June 2014.  Lou is a mountain guide who is also an artist of some note. I saw his work in a gallery in Boulder, CO, and thought it would be great for our adventure. The border of the art is actually a coded story about all the events of the day: what time we started, the weather, how we felt, etc. I love Lou Renner’s mixed media.  It’s in our home now:  an inspiration to “climb every mountain.”



Are you ready to try some mountain climbing?

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4 thoughts on “An Amazing Mountain Climbing Adventure for Empty Nesters”

  1. I can walk all day but throw a mountain into the mix and I get a bit iffy. As long as I can take my time, stop to take lots of photos and a sit down I’m up for it. Could take longer than expected though. I do love Mountains though, they lift me up 🙂

    • Jan, I think mountains are beautiful, but I have an irrational fear of falling. When you climb up a mountain…you must come down!

  2. Hi Jan and Suzanne – A year later, we attempted to climb The Grand Teton. The first day is an all-day hike uphill. You sleep in a yurt and then summit the next day with a pre-dawn “alpine start.” We failed, mainly because they had an unexpected 12″ of snow at elevation, which we were totally unprepared to face. Since then (8/14) we have been practicing many mountain skills, and we are going back there Saturday to try again! If at first you don’t succeed…. I will let you know how we do. Keep us in your thoughts this week!


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