correct to Mieszka Laczek-Johnson BOLDERMC16.JPG BOLDER MMieszka Laczek-Johnson, the one millionth finisher of the Bolder Boulder, wears the faces of men she served with in the Army. PHOTO BY MARTY CAIVANO May 30,, 1011

Looking back on a year’s worth of the stories people have shared with me makes my heart pound in fear, wonder and love.

Even the short encounters can be powerful. Like during the 2011 Bolder Boulder, when Mieszka Laczek-Johnson, the millionth Bolder Boulder runner to cross the finish line, told a pack of reporters that she was a veteran who had served in Iraq. She was injured and had to re-learn how to walk, but eventually ran the Marine Corps marathon in 2009. She ran the Bolder Boulder for eight fallen soldiers and wore their photos on her back.

There were times when that pounding was triggered just from a phone call. When I talked to Cory Richards, the climber who filmed “Cold,” a short about his winter ascent of Gasherbrum II, the drama of his journey came through the line.

“Being that cold and being at 8,000 meters, on this super masochistic level, is fun,” he said. “I remember ice just being caked on my face. And there was some piece of me that really, really loved this situation, just knowing that here we are in this impossible scenario and we are still alive.”

“Slowly but surely you become a piece of that landscape, it engulfs you. It’s more powerful than you, and over time, you become part of it,” he said. But you have to get out soon enough, he added. “Before you die.”

Just from his description, wonder and fear crept into my heart.

Love: In July, Lynn Curtis pushed a baby jogger holding 50 pounds of weights — the amount her son Ben weighed when he died — up Mount Evans. And she did this after surviving throat cancer.

Lynn pushed Ben in the stroller every day when he was alive. But after his death, she had trouble finding an event to enter that would let her push the stroller up a mountain in her son’s honor.

“People would make other suggestions, like why don’t you just run the bike path by Vail?” she told me.

“What did you tell them?” I asked when I interviewed her in August.

“No!” she said. “I wanted a summit. I wanted a mountain…I didn’t want to do a bike path for Ben. He deserved Mount Evans. Or something else like that. And I think that’s why I was so hell-bent on doing it. To me, his life was just so, so big.”

Lynn, so is yours. When I talked to her husband, Ken, he said: “Lynn has really overcome some amazing obstacles…and she has a view on life that is pretty extraordinary.”

Thanks to the whole Curtis family for sharing your story.

And that brings me to my wonder at another family’s story. Early in 2011, 9-year-old climber Stella Noble asked her dad, Forrest, if he would take her up the Diamond on Longs Peak.

Forrest thought about it. Hard. He knew that in terms of difficulty, Stella’s climbing ability was far beyond what was required for the route. But is a big wall on a 14,000 foot peak a place for 9-year-old?

Forrest told Stella, “we may go up just to check things out, and we might need to come back in a few years if it doesn’t feel right.”

She replied, “Daddy, we are going up there to check it off, not check it out.”
Stella checked it off — she’s the youngest person to have climbed the Diamond.

I’m excited to check out what Stella, now 10, does in 2012.

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