6 more sleeps until we climb Mount Baker in Washington!
Today is a Civic holiday in Ontario and, since we spent the last 2 days driving our son back to Indiana, we were happy to have the extra day off for some serious training. This morning we tackled 2 hours of hills in the heat, each carrying 55lb backpacks. Not gonna lie, it was not fun but, we ‘goterdone’. Tonight we earned some endurance points with some ravine stairs.
I’ve been asked a lot lately how long we’ve been training. I kind of hesitate on the answer since a lot has gone into getting us to this point in our adventures. The real answer is 4 years and 4 months. We started training for this April 2011, we just had absolutely no idea how one intriguing milestone adventure would bring us to this point.
Despite needing to make a life change for health’s sake, life kept getting in the way. I will admit our lives were a bit crazy but not unlike many working adults with too many kids in too many activities. For 5 years straight we had no less than 9 kid related activities every 7 days. Competitive hockey, soccer, karate, swimming etc. It was nuts and add crazy demanding careers to that mix. We loved it but as the kids started to get older and head off to university a change was needed.
For a couple of years we’d been looking for raw land to purchase up North. We wanted to build our own ‘off the grid’ camp and success in finally finding the right spot on a ‘no motor boat lake’ meant we would need to get to work as soon as the snow thawed. This was our dream and we wanted to do the work ourselves so it would require a lot of hard manual labour from us. Guaranteed to help get us in shape but would we survive it!
We hired trainers to start with weight lifting, we added walks through our hilly community then we started beating our bodies up every single weekend building our dream get away. That’ll do it! I will say when we started walking hills, it was ONE hill and we would have to stop to catch our breath. It was very challenging for us but we never gave up. We would work hard all weekend then get into the car late Sunday to drive home. After a few hours in the car, we could hardly get ourselves out; standing and walking was a true challenge. The magic was starting to happen!
Around this time, I decided I was going to climb Mt Kilimanjaro as my 50th year challenge in a year and a half. Lots of motivation to stay on track! About 6 months before our big climb, we started with an army style bootcamp. Outdoor sessions went from 5:30am to 7am three mornings a week all year long. We never knew what our Corporal instructor was going to make us do. Run with big tires tied to our waist, push a car up a hill, 2 people running with a heavy metal bar named “Misery”, human wheel barrels up hills, carry people across football fields, carry picnic tables in the sand. Talk about a whole body workout. We LOVED it and stuck with this for more than 2 years. The friendships have endured as well. Hanging with active people, you do active things together. You are who you hang out with!
After our climb Sept 2012, I decided to pursue distance running to help with my endurance. Running was my nemesis, I truly hated it. Apparently taking on something you hate is great training for Summit Day so, knowing there were going to be more climbs, I came up with a goal to run a 10km race the following year. My running started pole to pole, then block to block, it was a slow pathetic process but I stuck with it and learned a lot about myself. Not only did I run a 10km the following year but a 15km and then my first Half Marathon and a Full Marathon a year later. It wasn’t until I hit 12km that I had a run that made me feel like a rockstar. That run made me stick with it. If I’d just stopped at 10, I would not have known it was possible for me to enjoy running.
During this running challenge we decided to tackle our first Tough Mudder with our bootcamp friends. This obstacle event is a great combination of physical and mental ‘threats’. You need the endurance to tackle numerous ski hill treks over several hours as well as the strength and guts to handle the tough obstacle challenges along the route. You sign your life away due to the nature of the obstacles but Tough Mudder requires you to deal with a ton of fears; fire, jumping, immersion in ice, electrocution, dark tunnels, climbing etc. Almost everyone has at least one fear they’d have to come face to face with on the course. Great way to get to know yourself is taking on your fears. At 50 it was about time we got to really know ourselves!
The running continued along with the bootcamp and the weight training and the hard labour weekends. It’s a culmination of undertakings all requiring different skills. We were getting amazing physical training and mental training. Getting to know yourself better through this process creates a desire to keep pushing and learning more. I think this ‘uping the ante’ is what keeps us going on our adventures and why our adventures keep getting more ‘adventurous’.
So, when did we start training? About 6 weeks ago with weighted backpacks. You see Mount Baker requires all climbers to take care of themselves on the mountain which means carrying everything we need ourselves. Tent, cooking supplies, food, water, clothes for temps from 80 to -15 etc. No porters, no sherpas, no cooks. We carry it all and do it all which will require us to wear 55+lb packs while climbing from camp to camp and dealing with altitude. We’re totally out of our element once again!
Then there is the fear element. Avalanches, crevasses, ice, ropes, climbing inclines, cold, ice axe, crampons, crevasse ladders etc. We’re going to be dealing with bigger fears and more real dangers then we’ve ever imagined volunteering for willingly. Actually, we’re paying a lot for this! Mentally, our training is our previous 3 climbs as well as learning about our fears and mental challenges through Tough Mudder, Spartan, bootcamp and running. This is definitely the next level up.
We began 2015 knowing that we were going to take on another mountain we just didn’t know which one. Borneo, Machu Picchu, Rainier were all in our mind. We started the year very fit, both running, both strong but we decided to step into something new which was a Crossfit style bootcamp 5 mornings a week. Conditioning, weight training, competition. It kicked our butts. Actually, any workout is only as good as the effort you put into it but the timed nature of most of the activities really pushed us to the next level. It was a serious 40 minutes! This kick started our training for this Mount Baker climb.
We frequently get asked what keeps us going? It’s the goals. It’s the memories from hitting the goals. It’s our health. It’s wanting to be good mentors for our ‘kids’. It’s sharing something together. Meeting new, active, fun people. Staying young. Being able to take on exciting adventures whenever we want. If we won a lottery tomorrow we could jump on a plane and go climb a mountain. It. Is. Now. Our. Lifestyle!!! We don’t like how we feel if we take a break, even for a weekend. We want our best life. We have our best life. We worked for our best life.
It’s always worth doing!