My Favorite Adventure


I have had a myriad of impactful experiences during my time at Summit Semester. Many academic, and many adventurous and challenging.

One adventure in particular that greatly impacted and shaped me into who I am now, was hiking to the top of Handies Peak (14,058 ft.) on September 27th. This was quite easily one of the most physically challenging feats I have ever taken on. Leaving the lodge at 3:00 am to start our ascent at 6:30 am to be able to summit by noon meant that I was in for a very long day. When I wasn’t thinking about how labored my breathing was becoming, I was able to appreciate the beautiful aspens turning yellow for the first couple of hours.

As we ascended further up the mountain, getting closer to the tree line, I found myself severely struggling with my heart feeling like it would pound right out of my chest. The peak seemed to stay a million miles away. I quickly realized that the only way I would be making it to the top would be by the grace of God and the answering of my petitions for Divine strength – and God is faithful when we seek to give Him glory for our accomplishments. At 11:56 am I summited Handies Peak.

The view from the top was one of the most extraordinary I’ve ever seen. The miles upon miles of mountains visible from the top practically shouted the Creator’s eminence. Intense satisfaction and relief flooding through me, I immediately gave God praise for His magnificent creation and for enabling my weary body to complete my journey. I was made very aware of my incapability apart from Christ – in many areas of my life. Throughout the last two months of Semester, I have lived with a greater understanding of the power and love of my Heavenly Father and how He displays these in practical ways.

I will be leaving Semester with countless fond memories, but our Monday adventures – Handies Peak in particular – will hold a most special place in my heart and the invaluable lessons learned through them regarding building community, overcoming fears, and experiencing God’s grace.

By Joelle Mallo, Joelle is 19 years old and a homeschooled 2021 high school graduate. She is the youngest of four children and hails from southwest Michigan. She enjoys deer hunting, cooking/baking, long-distance road biking, making and finding new music, going to the gym, Lake Michigan beach days, and a great deal of traveling. Joelle has no current plans for her future after Semester but has known for over a year now that here, in Pagosa Springs, is where God wants her for this portion of her life. With that being said, she is beyond excited to see what direction God may point her in and the people He will bring into her life while she is here. One of Joelle’s favorite passages of Scripture that has impacted her life greatly is Psalm 46:1-3, which says: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the oceans roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”