Some of you may think I've forgotten all about it, but I'm planning to finally cross the first item off my Life List in a few short weeks. And it's a doozy.
In less than a month, Jeff and I will take on Mt. Whitney. Which happens to be the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. Which once sounded like a grand, poetic way to kick off my Life List. And I suppose it still is, right? I mean, it will easily be the most strenuous and physically demanding thing I've ever done – and I have a 2 year old! It will not be easy, but I am determined that it will be fun.
Jeff and I received an email from SMI (Sierra Mountaineering International – the company we're climbing with in July) notifying us that Whitney still has "Spring conditions". "Spring" means snow and ice and additional equipment we were counting on not needing.
I've read the blogs! I've seen the pictures! People climb Whitney in July, in SHORTS! What is this talk of SNOW?? So, expect the unexpected, I suppose. Now we have to recalibrate our expectations for the possibility of snow and ice and high river crossings. But such is the nature of the beast.
So. We thought it would be a good day to go climb stairs. Ugh.
Let me take this opportunity to fill you in on a little something. I'm not really an exerciser. I've never played sports and I don't particularly enjoy working out. Honestly, I've been kinda surprised at my motivation to train for Whitney. Since April or so, I've been going to the gym nearly every night after Colt goes to bed, and doing at least an hour of cardio. I've exercised more in the last few months than I think I have – collectively – in my lifetime. And I was pretty proud of myself.
Jeff took Colt and me to the parking garage on campus. And proceeded to torture me. We ran up and down the stairwell until I thought I might be sick. Nine flights, people. Up to 3. Back down. Up to 4. Back down. Up to 5 back down. Do it again. Up to 9. Do it again. My legs were jelly. It was as if all the nights in the gym were a drop in the bucket and after an hour of sweating and grunting in that stale, musty stairwell I started to worry that I'm not going to make it. What if I've signed on for more than I can handle?
But I made it through today. We climbed every last step we set out to climb. The parking deck was nearly empty so we ran up and down the ramps while Colt chased after us – loving every second, and probably wondering what in the world was wrong with us.
But I did it. For now. I realize it will only get harder. And that soon I'll have to run those stairs while wearing a 30 pound backpack. And that none of it will be as hard as the actual climb. But I'm taking it one step at a time. And I'm more convinced than ever that this is the perfect way to start tackling my Life List. Bring it on.
The longest journey begins with a single step.