Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Start

Welcome to the first post of my mountain blog, where I'm going to be writing up reviews of the different mountains I have or am going to climb. This all came about after finally deciding to quit smoking after 18 years, and on average at least a pack a day. There has been so many hikes I've wanted to do, mountains I've wanted to summit, but due to my fitness level from smoking, I either back burnered them or gave up part way through.

Now, a little bit of background. I was lucky enough to have lived almost my entire life in the NorthWest, and a fair chunk of that in Alaska. I was also very fortunate to have a dad who spent most of his life in the woods. My pops was a USFS Forester for 30+ years, as well as spending four years in the Army. He started teaching me survival, navigation, hunting, and fishing at a young age. I was catching fish on my own by the time I was 5 and learning to shoot by 7. Took the Washington hunter safety course at 9 and aced it, with the majority of the class 3-4 years older than me. I love being outdoors, and living in SouthEast Alaska was a great place to live when I was in my teens-20's.

Unfortunately when I turned 18 and went to college, I started smoking. September of 92, and I can tell you almost what day, right around the 11th-12th. When I was younger it didn't affect me as much. I'd been out of shape after a car accident in 88 that precluded me from engaging in most contact sports (learned not to trust doctors as much after that), and in college really started working out. Took TaeKwonDo for a few quarters, then weight training and really improved my overall fitness. It wasn't until my mid 20's I really started to see how smoking was affecting my stamina, especially on uphill treks.

In 2000, I moved to Arizona and started working on my pilots license. My instructors were fairly impressed with my navigation skills, but after spending half my life running around in the woods or boats in the ocean, map and compass navigation was somewhat second nature. Then I started learning about the affects of smoking with altitude and night vision, two very essential aspects of flying. This was the time in my life were I started bouncing around between Alaska and other points South. I was getting fed up with life where I was at, so I was spending winters at various times in Texas, Oregon, and California. In 2002, I made the highest summit in my life at that point.

Hager Mountain in Central Oregon is 7,178' to the fire lookout, with a pretty decent trail going up. In 2002, I ended up back in Oregon for the winter to do more flying. I had to wait for some student loans to go through before moving to Corvallis, so spent about a month and a half staying with my folks in Silver Lake. I'll tell you, there's not much of anything over there, but the first morning in town walking to the cafe for some morning coffee, I saw Hager to the south. Looked at some maps after getting home, and decided to hike up. Started the first day at a lower point on the trail, and only made it a few miles and gave up. Gotta remember, the town is at over 4,000', and I've lived 95% of my life between sea level and 500'. The next day, I hiked a different section of the trail where the road intersected, and still only made a few miles.

I took a day off, and on Thursday loaded up my pack and started the hike from a lower trail head at a spring that would cover about 2 and a half miles to the summit. Well, that last mile took me almost an hour! I couldn't breathe with thin air and smokers lungs. Made it to the outhouse and storage sheds about 40' below the lookout and stopped to rest, then proceeded to the lookout. I thought the last 40' was worse than the previous mile!

In the last 8 years, it wasn't getting any better, and after a run of friends with health problems passed, I decided to kick the smoking habit. I set myself a goal of climbing Mt. Adams next summer, since most of my family has been to the top at one time or another, and it began to evolve into something all its own. First it was hiking Mary's Peak, then finishing the Iron Mountain trail I never finished 4 years ago, to planning to climb the South Sister Mountain by September. Finally it became wanting to climb the tallest hill/butte/mountain in every state of the U.S.

 So, I thought I'd start writing about it here. Just an average guy who went from spending half his life killing himself, to trying to climb mountains.

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