19,000 feet four years, three mountains , two hikes, one rescue, and one pandemic. I did it this past July. I completed the quest I did to honor my friends memory. It took longer than I had hoped but I am happy.
A little background …in 2017 I climbed up to the cross in Palm desert California . I was overwhelmed with a feeling of happiness that I had done it without injury .. I was Hooked !!!
I hatched a plan to think about a much bigger mountain … Kilimanjaro , yes it was nuts . Thankfully I reviewed a climbers vid who like me was a type two diabetic . He was not successful in his bid . It was also a ton of money and time to invest in something that only had a small chance of success…..but wait I was two hours away from lots of mountains . So my plan was born … I would climb as many mountains and hikes as it took, to make up 19000 feet of max elevation .
Simple plan what could go wrong ??? A lot ….but the first one was Tunnel mountain in 2018 I trained hard and looked at more peoples experiences. It was rated moderate so I figured ok …..
We left on a Saturday and the weather was not great much fog and drizzle temps of 5 C…our original plan was Sulphur mountain but it was shrouded in fog halfway up ( why climb when there will be no view at the end ) and we were concerned the trail may be wet and slippery. So fallback to plan b Tunnel Mountain .
Very quickly I learned a new appreciation for the word “steep” …it was a huff and puff slow slog which took twice the amount of time it should have, very demoralizing seeing people pass you on the way and then again on the way down (why didnt I do this in my twenties ?) At one point I figured I had to stop…but a quick scout ahead by one of our trio gave me hope …we were really close …..we made it !!! quick pic and a vid call to my daughter . Now the hard part going down …thank god for my hiking poles . Soon enough we were celebrating at a local pub in Canmore . I was feeling happy with my accomplishment but a bigger mountain was what I was hoping to do and this time I would call my ailing friend from the top.
I trained very hard for Sulphur , based on my performance on tunnel …treadmill, walking ,recumbent bike all employed to help me in my quest . Two weeks before we were to go up , I got the news my friend had passed away , it was a tough loss and it took the wind from my sails . I had wanted to take her with me by vid chat and share this with her , now I only had her memory to take . I was tired and sad ,but still feeling like it was even more important now somehow .
We arrived full of anticipation very confident in success…the day was lovely . The first part was very nice , forested and shady , it was taking us much longer to get up with frequent stops. At a certain point we had been on the trail 5 hours and we were still 400 ft and 7 switchbacks from the top. I went to go forward and was met with a lack of breath and dizziness…every time I tried to move it was the same , I moved away the the very steep edge and found a rock and laid down so I wouldn’t faint . After some time we quickly realized ..I was done .. I felt embarrassed and defeated , and, I had let my friend down. It was determined I needed to get to a lower altitude . So cue the helicopter….(dear GOD). This experience rattled my dear husband and our hiking companion suggested a much lower altitude limit for future hikes . A hiking app has recently rated this trail as “hard” …never would have attempted if I had known
Fast forward to fall of 2020 and cases of Covid were going up, my dear husband was in a new job and we did not have much free time by December we were in full lockdown , businesses closed, take out restaurants only and no indoor gatherings . We were in survival mode , bucket lists had to wait.
Fast forward to March and April this year ..we got our covid shots , restaurants and businesses opened up …slowly life was returning to a new version of normal. I started to plan for the final hike in this bucket list…Grassi Lakes
This hike had it all, choice of two routes, beautiful lakes and it was perfect for the elevation I needed . The only downside was its popularity. So to combat this we left our home at an ungodly hour to arrive in time to secure a parking spot . The day was beautiful the trail very manageable. At a point well along the trail a nice lady told us we are only five minutes away from the lakes ( bless her ) as I walked along a rise before we descended to the lakes , I checked my elevation app . I was actually over the elevation needed to make my goal . It was a great feeling ..I did it Terry!!! It was such a beautiful hike to end on , we took our time and had a snack and explored a bit , then it was down time .
So what now ??? I am in process of doing a distance challenge 97 km to be exact , and more hikes to come as long as my body will cooperate. But for now I will revel a little in my accomplishment for me it was really a happy conclusion , I hope Terry would be proud.