DENVER (KDVR) – Christine Gilmore left Nebraska 15 years ago to pursue her passion.
“Hiking has always been my drug,” she said. “That’s the whole reason I moved to Colorado, was because I wanted to hike.”
Gilmore, a registered nurse, hiked on Front Range trails near Denver during her free time. Eventually she began climbing some of Colorado’s biggest peaks with her husband Chris. The couple tackled a handful of 14ers, until a trip to the neurologist in 2019 put her life on hold.
“In some ways I’m still in denial,” Gilmore admitted.
The 55-year-old was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a rapidly progressive degenerative disease that leads to muscle atrophy and death. There is no cure.
“It’s a cruel disease. Some people are gone within a year. Luckily, I have a slower progressing form,” she said.
Christine thought her days of climbing 14ers were over until she discovered The Lockwood Foundation, a Colorado based nonprofit that helps people with disabilities access hiking trails with adaptive wheelchairs.
Founder Jeffrey Lockwood said he was moved the first time he met Gilmore.
“She shared her story with me, and I realized that this was the person that needed to be given another summit bid. Another opportunity to climb a big mountain,” he said.
Gilmore accepted the challenge. She breezed through the first two days of the three-day journey to 14,000 feet.
“Well, today’s the day, the day that we’re hiking up Mount Elbert,” said Gilbert as she began the final climb to the summit.
At 14,433 feet Elbert is Colorado’s highest peak. With the help of a Trailrider, The Lockwood Foundation’s adaptive wheelchair, 50 volunteers were able to push and carry Gilmore all the way to the summit.
“There were times that it was a little scary and precarious. I had to close my eyes a few times. But I totally trusted those people,” Gilmore said.
Once the summit was in sight, the self-proclaimed ALS Warrior insisted that she complete the journey on her own.
“I planted my feet on the ground, even if it was only six or seven steps to the top. I can say that I summited,” said Gilmore with a smile. “When you achieve something, especially if its a little more nerve racking, it makes it even more exciting.”
It also makes Gilmore want to cross another bucket list item off her list.
“It’s like, ‘Ok, what’s the next adventure?'” she said.