One of the surprising things about Roseburg is the elevation. It just seems higher then 500 feet. Douglas County goes from the ocean to the High Cascades. The highest point is Mount Thielsen at 9,184 feet. I climbed it at 50 years old.
When I lost my weight, I started looking for challenges. Recapturing youth? Sure... why not? Ego? Okay... Things I always wanted to do? All of the above, plus plenty more upon reflection.
Turning 50 has been a bit of tumult. There is some disbelief that a half century has passed. Then again, I am really happy with my life. I am just in such a good place with good people that turning 50 is much more sweet then bitter.
Anyway - Last year I was thinking of climbing Mt. Thielsen for my 50th. With the start of summer and all the planning and being included in plans, I kind of shunted that goal to the side. In the back of my mind I kept thinking of ways to get up there.
So my birthday came and Tina, true to form, planned a number of fun things. My co-workers were very gracious in accolades. I had a fun outing at a karaoke bar, and a nice dinner out with my in-laws. It was all a pleasant time. I was actually having some down time from visitors, etc., when someone pulled into my driveway early Saturday morning. The sound on our street plays tricks, and I had thought it was the neighbors. Tina's out-loud wondering of who could that be, prompted me to investigate.
There is a context of your day-to-day life. When something so totally unbelievable occurs, your mind can reel in flashes of justifications and possibilities. I would categorize this as mental shock. Which is what I experienced as my childhood friend Robert Shoemaker (Shoo) was standing in my doorway, with his teenage son Kenrick.
Shoo lives in southern California. Due to the wonders of the internet we keep in touch regularly. His showing up on my doorstep was so beyond anything, I was just stunned and surprised . Tina had been planning this for a year. Which is all the more remarkable as she is usually less then able to keep surprises.
The three of us sallied forth to Mt. Thielsen. This is just under a two-hour drive to the Trail Head near Diamond Lake. The hike is an uphill trek for about three miles. You go through wondrous forest with some snowy patches. The trail vanished at one point, but was unerringly found again by Shoo's preternatural ability to find such. The peak was slowly moving closer and closer. I was able to keep pace with Kenrick, which I was quite pleased with due to my fitness level, as he is a sporto in wrestling and football.
With about two miles left the terrain changed. There was loose dirt with foot-sized rocks on a pseudo trail, cutting back and forth above the treeline. Each step would be either a good step up or a slide back. You quickly learn to plant your foot and ease the pressure in anticipation. At this point I began to outdistance Kenrick. We would pause at times and gather back together. It was slow going at a lung-busting elevation. Shoo's tenacity was remarkable. He stated that he was concerned about making the climb, only to note his progress toward the peak and then double down on willpower.
The next section was loose rock over rock. As luck would have it, a young Swiss gentleman by the name of Allen was not far ahead, providing a visual reference for the climb. It was a hands and feet climb, the last hundred feet or so. Kenrick and I got to the top, Shoo was close behind us.
The views are spectacular. There were geological curiosities to ponder and quite a sense of accomplishment.
Currently I am in my own personal feeling of grace.