I’m frequently asked who inspires me, especially some of my crazy outdoor adventures. Honestly I don’t have to look very far, because ever since I was little, my outdoor hero has always been my dad.
My dad has never been able to sit still. For as long as I can remember he’s been hiking, camping, and exploring. Instead of slowing down with age, he’s defied it. In fact, I swear he grows stronger every year and now today, he’s 70 and can still out hike me! He has no trouble keeping up with people more than half his age and despite the fact that we both have rheumatoid arthritis, we somehow find a way to keep on moving!
My dad and stepmom have lived in the southern California area since 2000 and during that time they’ve bagged 800+ peaks (over 1,000 if you count repeat trips) and have earned numerous Sierra Club peaks lists honors. In fact, I think they’re in the middle of completing some of their peakbagging lists for a second time!
Nearly every weekend they’re hiking, typically covering 10-20 miles in a day and frequently pathfinding in areas that have no trails. My dad keeps joking that they’ll need to move soon since they’ve hiked pretty much everything within an 8-hour radius of their home!
I’ve always loved getting out with my dad and stepmom for adventures. We’ve done some spectacular but tough outings and it seems every year we go bigger. One of our first epic adventures in 2013 was completing the Grand Canyon’s Rim to the River and back in a day: 20 miles and 4,800′ of elevation. I struggled the last few miles and it was my dad who came to my rescue, hiking back down the trail to high-five me and offer some much needed moral support.
Then in 2014, I gathered a group of friends and with my dad and stepmom we completed a day hike of the beautiful Enchantments near Leavenworth, Washington. It’s an 18 mile 7,000′ journey on rocky granite that is so tough it’s commonly referred to as the Death March. We also threw in a bonus summit to Little Annapurna, an 8,440′ peak along the route.
I remember at one point my friends and I stopped on the way up Annapurna, completely exhausted, wondering if we would ever make it to the top. As we rested, my dad paused, looked at us, then took off straight up the mountain. He was out of sight in a few seconds.
“Damn!” my friend exclaimed. “Your dad just kicked our butts!” Indeed he did! When your dad leaves you in the dust it’s both humbling and awesome at the same time. We sure didn’t dally after that and my friends got first-hand experience where my crazy comes from, ha!
In 2015, my dad and stepmom joined me for a few days while I attempted to backpack the entire John Muir Trail. Unfortunately, wildfires cut my trip short, but we were able to luck into permits to day hike Mount Whitney, which was a beautiful consolation prize. At 67, it was incredible my dad had no trouble day hiking Whitney’s brutal 22 miles and 6k of elevation in 14 hours.
For 2016’s crazy outdoor challenge, my dad, stepmom and I spent 3 days climbing Southern California’s 3 tallest peaks as part of Adventure 16’s 3 Peak Challenge. All total, with a few bonus peaks thrown in, we tallied 44 miles and about 14,277′ of elevation gain. My dad even won an award for being the oldest participant to complete all 3 peaks in 3 days. Amazing!!
I’m so proud and honored to have a fit, active, and adventurous dad and I feel so lucky to share these incredible experiences with him.
Today he turns 70 and I know he still has plenty of miles left to run circles around me! In fact, he’s been traveling to Seattle lately to join me on many of my fire lookout excursions and this coming week, we’ll be heading to eastern Washington to visit some more!
My dad and I talk several times a week, always trading stories and plans for upcoming hikes and adventures. I asked my dad once what motivates him to keep hiking and he said “it’s the physical challenge and enjoyment and the simple desire to keep exploring.”
My dad is living proof that staying fit and having an intrepid spirit keeps you eternally youthful. He and my stepmom are both great reminders that we can all be lifelong adventurers and that age really is only a number.