Conquering the Mountain: My Trip to the Peter Estin Hut

So this idea of CouragEndures started with the pure desire to promote individuals acts of courage.

“To recognize and promote those who exhibit or are in need of courage as a foundation to face any and all of life’s challenges and to do so in the pursuit of health and happiness for the mind, body and soul.”

This is part of my story - 

As I was hiking up this mountain in snow shoes, 5 miles, 2150 feet of elevation gain and ascending to 11,200 feet. I couldn’t help but think about questions that Sarah had text to me to ask myself:

  1. John, How do you feel? Thats a funny question, I’m nervous, I’m excited and I’m scared but somewhere in all of that I’m confident that I have done the physical training to do it. But have I done the mental work? well thats an unknown for sure. I’m resigned to the idea that this is part of  “MY PLAN” to achieve an optimal life for me. So I start up the mountain, I realize that I like hiking up mountains because I become singularly focused on what I have to do, life is not pulling at peripheral vision. The only thing I have to solve is how I’m getting up this mountain. Well I’m going to put one foot on front of the other, thats how. So I start doing it! I feel pretty good for the first 2.5miles. I feel "not as good" for the rest of the way up….. up and up! Its gets steeper and steeper, around 10,300 I start counting steps before I can take my next rest(and I’m checking my heart rate as well) 1,2,3,4 steps…….45, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 steps….REST! I’m always listening intently to my body, to my heart, to my legs and to my lungs always checking in with them. I also always take a moment to take look where I have been and where I’m headed but most importantly I see and feel the earth’s beauty and power all around me. I also remember my goal! JHB’s Goal to ascend to a place that I have never been before and to grab ahold of the  opportunity to achieve my goal and its totally up to me. SO HELLO PETER ESTIN HUT…11,200 feet.
"1,2,3,4 steps…….45, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 steps….REST!" 

The Move to the Top

It was asked of me, 'JB What is going through your mind while heading up?'  For starters I’m always checking watching my heart monitor. My mind is asking me questions about my body. My body quickly answers me by reminding me that 'JB you have a blister on our heel, the size of a half dollar, you idiot!', or 'I wonder what this is doing to my blood sugar?' and even, 'JB,  have you eaten enough?' If my Blood Sugars are to high will it kill me on the spot (this question might be the altitude). I know that is a little bit extreme but I’m climbing a mountain in the snow, so that's “extreme” ha! I haven’t even got to my damaged heart yet, So I check in with it, heart beats are strong and steady (via my SUUNTO WATCH). I can do this, I remember that 'Fuck-N-A' is an affirmation. My mind drifts and I’m thinking about my mother and brothers, I’m thinking about what it would be like to be living in the Scottish highlands and I would have to do this everyday., minus the snowshoes… I can’t help but verbally say out loud “there can only be one” I of course smile at that! Finally see the top, but Shit…there is about a .2 miles of straight up climb…I realize that I’m still strong, tired but strong, so I take a step and start the step count again. HELLO PETER ESTIN HUT!

The Decision to Take On the Challenge

Deciding to go was by far the hardest part. Not letting my friends down, not embarrassing myself, Not letting myself down, 'cause fear in the past has controlled me and has made me quit before, so not today!  So the hardest part is all mental. JB- GET YOUR ASS UP THAT MOUNTAIN! FIGHT!  Fear of the unknown is and always will be the hardest part! HELLO PETER ESTIN HUT! 

Looking back at the clouds where the hut sits; looking down at where I have been. It doesn’t look easy to get here and it's not! But, like life, nothing worth while is easy. I say a blessing to the earth, the mountains and my appreciation for giving me safe travel! I say a blessing to my body for powering me up and down that mountain and allowing me to see greatness.

I will live to find my courage for yet another day. #findyourcourage #couragendures

#MondayMotivation - Taking the Next Step

Taking the Next Step


So today I'm preparing to head out on an adventure with my good friend Mike. I can't help but reflect how far I have come since my diabetes day and my subsequent heart surgery. To be able to journey into the great unknown and challenge myself is absolutely pretty darn cool.

We are heading out to snow-shoe up to the Peter Estin Hut (, I will see my god and celebrate that I'M DOING THIS WITH MY HEART, LUNGS, HEAD AND LEGS....BOOYAH! The only motor I'm using is mine! I would've never thought that I was ever going attempt such an adventure in the early part of 2012. I had just been told that I needed heart surgery and I was feeling...well freaked out. But I had already flipped the switch(#fliptheswitch) upon my diabetes diagnose in November of the previous year and I had chosen LIFE.

 I had dropped around 40lbs in about 90 days. I remember waking up post-op and thinking to myself that I was alive. I remember thinking that i would be alright. I was barely out of surgery and the nurse was looking into my eyes and checking my pupils and I noticed what beautiful blue eyes she had, its funny I think to this day that I look for beauty in just about everything and everyone, it was shows me that I'm alive, and dammit I'm alive!

Fast forward to this week's trip: I know it will be hard. I know that I will be last up the mountain.  The beauty I will get to see is such a great motivation for me. I will witness the snow, the cold crisp air, the trees under their blanket of snow, the sky slowly revealing  its intentions on us. Most of all I will celebrate my breath; I will feel and hear my breath as it starts to increase with every step I take and I will give thanks because I am so happy to have it. I will gaze out into the vast open space of the Colorado Rockies and I will say a blessing. I will think my myself for being brave, for being tough, for working hard, I will respect how afraid I was in 2012. I will think about laying in the hospital bed on the first night post-op and remember how out of it I was, I will rememeber thinking that they had moved me to an outdoor loading dock and not knowing why they moved me there and where were they taking me (Nowhere, I never physically left my room).  

Today I'm  anticipating the feeling of the quiet of the mountain air all around me, I will be worried that my group is waiting on me to move faster but I can only move as my body will allow.   I long for the feeling of pride in myself that my little damaged heart is getting it done.. I'm climbing above 11,000 feet. I will thank the universe for allowing me to ride this storm of adventure. I will flash back to walking out of the heart hospital and truly now that this belongs to me and celebrate that achievement.

I can hear my future conversation with myself while heading up to the promise land and it will go something like this:

"JB climb, keep moving forward! Climb that fucking mountain. JB,  life is difficult, JB TAKE ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS YOUR GOAL!.  Keep looking forward you can't change whats behind you, keep moving forward. There are no promises. Take another step..Do you feel your heart? It feels so good, its working hard, JB there aren't any guarantees. JB keep going, you are not tired!"

Then I will finally get above tree line and I will start to sense the end of this day. My good friend Mike will be there to greet me, most likely he will hike back and check on me and walk the last half mile with me. I will see him looking at me, he will be seeing if I'm okay. We will arrive at our destination and I will feel such accomplishment. I will feel so lucky and I will feel confident and I will tip my hat to the mountains for providing me such challenge and bestowing on me such joy. I will quietly to myself thank my Doctors for doing their job to get me this journey. But most of all I will think my mind for pushing me to these heights and allowing me to dream, to work and to accomplish something that didn't seem possible just 3 and half years ago.


John's Journey: Post 2

Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
— George Addair

What makes me get out of bed on Mondays?  One word Accountability!

So I'm driving up to Tulsa to workout with Ashley Armstrong my friend and my trainer (Instag:ashleydarmstrong) every Monday morning and today I'm thinking about whats my motivation. 

People constantly ask me "why do you drive to Tulsa to workout?" My typical reply is something like "Because it makes me Happy!" Thats the truth! That's enough of me! But it really goes so much deeper than that.

What makes me motivated are actions and thoughts that scare me to death. I remember wanting to try things but in my head I would hear all the doubt and fear, so that would scare me. I would say  JB your not good at those things; JB-everyone is going to laugh at me;  JB-People will think I'm dumb! Not Disciplined...on and on the narrative in my head plays. So I come back to the words of George Addair, "Everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear."   

Being accountable = Motivation for me, so If I'm being accountable then I can travel to the other side of fear. The fear of not handling my health is a big motivator for me. I know that that I must keep my health and my body strong & my mind strong, so I do the work to get to the other side of fear. Kind of like writing these posts...this is something that scares me to death, I'm a little bit dyslexic, I skip words. I've been asked about my ADD all of my life. So sitting down and writing is something that scares me to death. So fearful, OMG people might know I'm not perfect...guess what? Everyone already knows that I'm not near perfect. To overcome this fear I just have to start writing, not worry about all the grammatical errors I will make, because I own them, also I'm not afraid to ask my friends, who I trust to look at my stuff and correct my mistakes as well as give me constructive critiques.

So being a bit broken is awesome! It allows me to see all of my beautiful imperfections and motivates me to be brave with myself. As Hemingway said "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places", so my motivation is to be accountable & awake, accept my broken places and work towards strength and happiness, that is what I want out of #MondayMotivation.



I'm John, founder of CouragEndures. Over the years that I've thought about this cause, it has evolved from something that was an outlet for my story to being an outlet for displaying, promoting, and encouraging the courage of others. It is my sincere hope that, as we grow, we are able to create a community that is supportive of each other throughout the struggles that life brings. Together, the ups and downs won't be easier, but we'll help each other find the strength to pull through our darkest days. Our courage will forever endure.