In March I set a goal for myself: Climb twelve mountains in twelve months, ending with a summit of Mt Rainier without a guide next year.
So I began.
It turns out there's a lot more to it than that. There's no way I'll be prepared to do Rainier by next year if I only do twelve mountains, as I've quickly learned. My goal of twelve mountains has quickly turned into a goal of 52 mountains in 52 weeks.
And so far I've kept up with it.
I've done Si and Tiger Mountain in the Cascade Range multiple times, and my biggest accomplishments so far have been a summit of St Helens and as of yesterday climbing to Camp Muir on Rainier, which is halfway to the Rainier summit. (Although apparently the REALLY hard stuff comes after Muir)
Three months and I've already done half of the second most prominent mountain in North America, and a glacier volcano at that.
I'm really not the same person that I was on March 1st.
Every night when I go to sleep after climbing another huge mountain, I transform. There's so much information to consolidate, my mind has a field day. I've transformed so many times since that first summit of Si in March. I don't look at the world the same way anymore. I see adventure in places I never would have before, and find pleasure in the simplest, cheapest happenings.
Trekking in and of itself is enough to change a life, but the part that imprints and will physically be with me the rest of my life are the people.
You meet people everywhere, but as with everything, if you want to find the extremes you must go to the extremes.
Trekking brings the most hardcore, driven people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Happy people; wonderful people; positive human beings that will drive you and teach you how to master the Earth by just experiencing it.
We were a small group of seven strong on Rainier yesterday.
We broke trail at 10:00. The snow met us at the base, and followed us all the way to Muir. Along the way we were joined and followed by some curious and very fat marmots. They were at least the size of beagles, and extremely gregarious. We could tell that the hikers fed them well.
Early on our group split up into a quicker and a slower group. Me and Keegan ran ahead of the rest of the group and we talked about our lives, theories, dreams, and most of all our experiences. It's not often I click with a guy so quickly, and there was just so much good information shared between the two of us.
He's a world-traveler at twenty-three, and the stories he told of Nepal, Vietnam, and India made my imagination go crazy. It's official, I've got the wanderlust. I only wish that we had more time to trek together in Seattle, but he was only visiting and is on his way to Uruguay for the next two months.
It had been 5 1/2 hours by the time we reached the camp and our clothes and shoes were absolutely drenched, so we stripped down and dried out in the June sun for an hour while waiting for the rest of our group. When they arrived we took a group photo in front of the summit, and descended, Keegan and I going ahead first.
Keegan's Dad had this bright idea to tell him before the hike that the best way to get down from Muir was to run. Keegan decided to take his Dad's advice to heart.
So we ran.
And we ran.
And I nearly had a heat stroke, I exaggerate not
but we ran.
After about twenty minutes down we took a breather and got a beautiful view of Mt St Helens, Mt Hood, and Mt Adams. I made a mental note that I'd checked one off(Helens), and had the two others left to go. Soon I'd return to finish off Rainier.
Keegan asked me if I'd like to make a wager on how long it would take us to make it down if we kept going at our current pace. I decided to make it more interesting and bet that we could both make it down in another 50 minutes, by 6:00 PM sharp. He took the bet and we sprinted.
Halfway down, to make time and to have some fun, we leaped off a snow-ledge that looked from the top to be about six meters vertically down. FREAKIN SPLASH.
About four football fields from the parking lot(estimated by Keegan) my brain began completely breaking down. I noticed that my vocabulary was shot and I could hardly focus on making my legs move. My heart was pounding harder than ever and I swear I felt a vein pop. I told him to go on without me, and was pretty certain I.. or maybe even he.. wouldn't make 6:00 at this point. I took a breather and removed my hat.
Amazingly, the cool air hitting my head was all that I needed to push myself to sprint down the final stretch. It was the hat and the unnecessary layer I was wearing that was killing me. I felt better immediately after getting some ventilation, and even though I was already picturing in my head the failure that assuredly awaited, I sprinted regardless.
At the parking lot I caught eye of Keegan taking a photo for a family and grabbed him asking him to quickly take his watch out.
I watched the seconds tick by
I'd made it by five seconds.
The Mission Impossible-like glee at that moment was palpable.
I want to push myself more.
I'm coming back for you Rainier.
Photo is a picture of me and friends glassading down St Helens.