Dark and early on the first morning of the second month in 2003, two of my co-workers joined me in an attempt to reach the summit of Mount Bierstadt in the deep snow of an uncharacteristically moist winter.
Both of my adopted kids had fled the nest the year before, and I’d had a hair-raising experience trying to make it up Mount Princeton alone in January. I wanted to do something I could be proud of, something that would require all my concentration, and all my friends wanted me to stop trying to climb mountains alone, particularly in winter.
My two co-workers and I began plodding up the gentle and snow-packed trail well before sunrise, hoping to catch the first golden beams of the sun from the high shoulder of the mountain. Alas, one of my co-workers began showing symptoms of altitude sickness and offered to turn back alone so we could continue on, and the other, an experienced and accomplished climber, didn’t believe in splitting a climbing party.
We all turned back together.
As we made our way back to the metro area in my 4Runner, we noticed all the flags in all the mountain towns we drove through were at half-staff. We assumed a well-known politician had died. We turned on the car’s radio and found a news station that periodically broadcast more than just mountain static.
The Space Shuttle Columbia had disintegrated during re-entry, and once again, all seven astronauts aboard were lost.
In July of that year, another friend joined me in an attempt to make it up Challenger Point, which was named in honor of the astronauts of the first shuttle we lost. We’d heard rumors another plaque would be placed across the 14,000-foot hump of Kit Carson, on another sub-summit that had just been renamed in honor of the Columbia crew. Reaching the summit of that peak would be beyond my abilities, so I’d asked my friend if he would get a shot of the newly named mountain for me from the summit of Kit Carson, which also is beyond my skills.
The following week, the plaque was indeed placed, and this time the ceremony included family members and friends of the Columbia crew, astronauts and an F-16 flyover in the missing man formation. I wish I could have been making my way up the mountain that day. I think the adrenaline surge would have helped me make it higher than I did.
I didn’t make it up Challenger, and I’m not sure at this point if my future will include any additional 14er summits. If I am ever able to climb again, Columbia and Challenger remain on my bucket list. Today’s snowflake is a promise that I will try again if given the opportunity.
The second plaque reads:
In Memory of the Crew of the Shuttle Columbia
Seven who died accepting the risk,
Expanding humankind's horizons
February 1, 2003
"Mankind is led into the darkness beyond
our world by the inspiration of discovery
and the longing to understand. Our
journey into space will go on."
President George W. Bush
You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!
Finished Size: 4.5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line
Ch 5, sl st into 1st ch OR make magic ring.
Round 1: 12 sc in ring; sl st in starting sc. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.
Round 2: Ch 9 (counts as 1 dc and ch 7), *sk next sc, 1 dc in next sc, ch 7; repeat from * around 4 times, sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 9.
Round 3: *3 sc in next ch 7 sp, ch 7, 3 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc.
Round 4: 1 sc over sl st just made into gap between 2 3/sc groups, *ch 3, 1 sc in next ch 7 sp, ch 5, 1 sc in same sp, ch 7, 1 sc in same sp, ch 5, 1 sc in same sp, ch 3, 1 sc in gap between next 2 3 sc groups; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last sc and ch 3 of final repeat; ch 1, 1 dc in in starting sc (counts as last ch 3 sp).
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Round 5: *Ch 7, sl st in 3rd ch from hook, 1 sc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, ch 2, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 3, 1 sc in next ch 5 sp, ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1, 1 sc in next ch 7 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 dc in same sp, ch 5, 1 sc in 5th ch from hook, ch 6, sl st in sc, ch 4, sl st in sc (tri-picot made), 1 dc in same ch 7 sp, 1 hdc in same sp, 1 sc in same sp, ch 3, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1, 1 sc in next ch 5 sp, ch 3, 1 sc in next ch 3 sp; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last sc of final round; sl st in dc used to finish Round 4; bind off. Weave in ends.
Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.
If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.