How our so-called New Year's Resolution led to my newest hobby. And a new nickname with it.
Welcome to my first blog entry. To get a few things out of the way, I am by no means a writer or a photographer. Or in any kind of great shape, so don’t be fooled by anything you’re about to read. I’ve decided to take on climbing the 46 Adirondack High Peaks and I figured writing about my experiences would be a great way to keep track of these and any other adventures over the next couple of years.
I should establish a couple things first, I suppose – that’s how these things work, right? At this point, I have completed 7 of the peaks and will be writing my first few posts after the fact. Going forward, I hope to keep writing and updating in real time. As I expand my own knowledge and experiences in the Adirondack region and beyond, I hope to keep posting. But I’m also pretty lazy so we’ll see how far I get.
New Years 2017 is when my wife, Lauren, and I finally decided to get active. To eat right and get in shape. At least try, right? We aren’t really big advocates of New Years resolutions. Everyone tries, most people fail, this is life. This is why we didn’t really speak out loud about our own personal goals and I won’t bore you with details. It was just a conscious effort to stop eating so much junk and get our asses on the treadmill or the weight bench or the bike path or whatever. “Move more, eat less” as Lauren usually puts it.
As the months progressed, we were kicking ass. We love food and cooking so much, it was easy to make healthy food taste fuckin’ delicious. We went through a few different phases of trying things – veganism, intermittent fasting, low carb this, high protein that. The gist of it is that we were feeling great. At some point in there, I made my proclamation: as a test of this new in-shapeness we were experiencing, I wanted to achieve a goal I’ve had for a very long time. I wanted to climb a mountain.
Todd & Sara, the busiest couple I know
We’d been trying to get together with Todd, a buddy I work with, and his wife Sara for a while. They’re the most difficult people to pin down. Every weekend they’re on one adventure or another, especially through the summer months. But I knew Todd was experienced enough that he wouldn’t let me bite off more than I could chew. Somehow we managed to get a weekend together to book a cabin near Lake Placid for an adventure. We had no plan, other than I wanted to make sure we found a mountain to climb. Flipping through the touristy flyers in our Airbnb, Todd found Cascade mountain. Knowing what I know now about the 46 High Peaks, this is the one almost everyone starts on. It’s supposed to be the easiest. Plan in place, it was time to get to hiking.
I hate to quit. I mean, I start lots of projects (likely this blog, ha!) that I never finish. But that’s usually because I’ve lost interest. But to quit at something that I want to do because it’s hard? Fuck that! But Cascade Mountain, the easiest of these 4000′ summits, was no cakewalk. Passersby were great to encourage us. But being passed by 5 year old kids and 80 year old seniors alike, I knew I couldn’t quit. A few really in shape dudes were carrying babies on their shoulder – showoffs. Ha! We took a bunch of breaks. The trail was hard on the feet – lots of uneven terrain, mud, puddles. I probably over-packed and my backpack felt like I was carrying a friggin’ teenager by the end. We finally made it past the last of the tree line. The summit was in sight – more on that in a minute.
At this point, I’m full of adrenaline. And simultaneously, Lauren has been pushed to her limits. Another thing people can tell you about me is that I’m fantastic at pushing people. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I dunno but it’s not my problem. I can push buttons to piss you off when you’re already on the brink, I can push you to try things you may not like and I can push you to realize your own limits. I like to think of it as a cross between Charles Manson and Jesus. But that’s because I’m narcissistic. Either way, it took a bit of final persuasion to encourage Lauren – it’s riiiight there!
Back to the summit being in sight. When a couple folks told us we were minutes away from the peak, I think we were all relieved. Until we saw what it was going to take to get there. What a punch in the dick. So much for my persuasion, who knew. It was nothing but bald slabs of rock on a pretty steep incline. This whole part of the climb looked like it was going to be just as tough as the previous couple of hours. One foot in front of the other. Over and over again. And finally, it was mine. Ours. A goal reached, a journey fulfilled. And was it ever worth it.
Getting up is only half the battle.
(Um, that's what she said - too easy.)
We polished off a beer, some lunch and snacks while we enjoyed our time at the top. It was so busy up there. I never imagined there’d be so many people at any given time. But it was mid-summer, on a weekend. And it was the easy, beginner mountain. We slowly made our way down and back to the car. We were all eager to hit up the hot tub back at the cabin and devour a pizza or three. I knew then that I was hooked. While immediate thoughts of food, a fire and comfort were on my mind, I already knew I was coming back. Over the next few days and weeks, I was already busy planning the other 45. I was hooked. Along with my new obsession came the inevitable roasting and with it a new nickname courtesy my wife and her brother – I was becoming Joe Wilderness.