Saturday, September 1, 2012

The bucket list

When I first moved to Evanston about 7 years ago, I put together a list of 25 goals that I wanted to achieve before I got to the point that I was too old and decrepit to move around without the assistance of a cane or walker.

So far, I’ve accomplished a number of them, and others may well always remain an elusive dream.

One goal that was NOT on my bucket list was mountain climbing, but it IS a goal that I recently achieved.

Mount Elden (in Flagstaff) is one of the five peaks of the greater San Francisco Peaks volcanic system, and they are all remnants of a single massive volcanic peak (nearly 20,000 feet tall) that exploded roughly 500,000 years ago.

The tallest of the San Francisco Peaks is Humphreys Peak. At 12,637 feet, it is the tallest mountain in the state of Arizona.

Just north of the dealership where Kelly and I both work is Mt. Elden. It stretches to a height of 9299 above sea level, which puts it roughly 2300 feet above “ground level” in Flagstaff.

From the air, it looks like this:

From the ground, it looks like this:

On the Saturday before my 65th birthday, Kelly and I (and dog Cody) decided to hike to the top of Mt. Elden. There are a total of 11 hiking trails on the mountain, and we chose to tackle the Elden Lookout Trail, which is the longest and most difficult. From ground level to the peak, it took us close to 3 hours to climb the 2400 feet of elevation. Once we got to the top, though, we had some pretty spectacular views:

Now that I’ve had a year to adjust to living at 7000 feel above sea level, the climb to the top wasn’t actually all that difficult. Surprisingly, the descent down was actually harder than the climb up because we used different leg muscles for the return journey, and my legs DID feel a little sore for a few days afterward.

On her first trip up Elden a few months ago, Kelly met a 70 year old man who climbs to the top 2 or 3 times every week, which proves the fact that you are literally only as old as you feel.

Now that I’ve done it once, it’s inevitable that I’ll have to do it again, Also inevitable is the fact the Kelly and I (and probably Cody) will make it to the top of Humphreys Peak at some point in time. If we DO manage to accomplish that, and if we listen very, very carefully, we’re likely to hear this tune coming out of the earth:

high on a mountain top

What’s on YOUR bucket list?

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