It started with me asking a room 50 formerly incarcerated individuals at Second Chance Center who wanted to climb a mountain. I told them it would be fun, but it would be hard. I had some interest, tempered with a lot of hesitation. Except from one guy, Solomon Aragon!
Solomon is 35, he just finished a four year sentence. The first words he spoke to me were, “I’m all in, what do I have to do.” Since then we’ve spoken at length numerous times. First about why he wanted to climb a mountain with us. He wanted to do something really hard, something that most people never do, he wanted to push himself. Later we spoke about what he wanted out of the climb. He told me about his son, his past, his baby mama who is currently locked up. He told me he’s finally really ready to begin a new chapter in his life. Something that up until now he wasn't ready to do.
After a couple weeks of jumping through hoops with his parole officer we got permission for him to join. Even though Solomon had never stepped foot in the mountains we chose a technical route (Kelso Ridge up Torreys Peak). We did this because Solomon wanted to go big and we believe that the steps beyond a persons perceived limits are where the magic happens.
So, at 2:30am we arrived at Solomon’s Fathers house. His son, uncle and grandfather were all sleeping inside. His father who was seemingly as excited and nervous as Solomon was up to see him off.
At 7:30am the technical aspects began. 30 minutes later Solomon turned to us and said, “Guys, I want you to know, I’m fucking terrified! I mean the most terrified I’ve ever been in my life. Just wanted you guys to know that. Let’s keep going.” And that’s what we did. Hour after hours we climbed that ridge. We roped up when it got technical, we worked as a team, we encouraged one another, we hydrated, we took pictures, we screamed into 70mpg gusts, and we celebrated all the little wins along the way.
Eventually just as the winds died down we found ourselves standing on the summit, hugging, high fiving, and shouting in celebration. The energy was great. Solomon was great. His effort throughout the day filled us. His joy at reaching the top filled us. His sincere appreciation for us filled us. It was an amazing day in the mountains!
I am certain that I get as much out of this as any participant.
Rewilding is a peer to peer program. We invite formerly incarcerated adults over the age of 21 to join other experienced outdoorsman in a wilderness adventure together, as peers. If you would like to get involved and join our adventure as an experienced outdoorsman please reach out.