Posts Tagged With: disabled climber

The Power of our Dreams


Have you ever had this experience? You’re minding your own business, usually in a public or semi-public area. Maybe you’re on a road trip, riding the city bus, or you’re on a airplane. Your eyes get heavy, the atmosphere is ripe for a little snooze and slowly you drift off. You enter a dream state where maybe you’re flying, or you’re stepping off the stairs, curb, or you trip and fall. In your dream you reach out for something to catch your fall, unfortunately for you your body responds in real life. Arms go flailing, legs shoot out from your body. Maybe you end up sideways and quite possibly a sound emanates from your mouth that makes you sound like a bridge troll. Your dream was so powerful that you unconscious body reacted to what was going on in your mind. That’s what I’m talking about today, the power of dreams and how it relates to our outdoor pursuits.

I recently made a page on this blog about my dream adventures. I listed out many mountains I’d love to summit, several trails I’d love to hike. The reality of accomplishing everything on my lists might never come to fruition. I’m in my mid-thirties and because we get older and not younger time is running out. I’m disabled as well, so my body isn’t improving. My ability to bounce back after hard days is diminishing; getting older only speeds this along. I’m a husband and a father too, I have two living children and by the time this story is published I our third might be sleeping on my arm. I have responsibilities at my church that may not permit me to be away for a month or more at a time. However in the midst of everything staring me in the face telling me that it’s not possible, I still dare to dream.

One of my dreams

One of my dreams

Those dreams are what spur me to put myself in a position to always be ready. Why train for something that may never materialize? Why do we prepare for an event, a trip, a desire that has no concrete date, plan, or even chance of manifesting? What drives us, what pushes us to the limits of who we are are people are the dreams we hold close to the vest. These dreams cause us to sacrifice ourselves, our time, our resources, our bodies. We ask others that are close to us to join us in this sacrifice as well.

“Honey, instead of getting some new furniture can we instead buy a new road bike? I want to ride in that road race next year.”

“Kids, I know you want to go to Disneyland but we’re going to Yosemite instead. Trust me it’ll be fun”

“Guys, I’d love to hang out and gorge myself on pizzas and movies but I’m going to eat this bag of broccoli, this plain chicken breast, and spend the next hour on the treadmill. Only 250 days until the marathon.”

Our dreams keep us from settling. From becoming too complacent to care at all about making ourselves greater, faster, stronger, more focused. Our dreams are what spur us to never give up; to do those things we don’t want to do but know that we have to do. I heard my pastor say this one time and it’s stuck with me for over ten years now.

“Opportunity does not knock it stands silently by waiting to be recognized but it often goes unnoticed because it looks like an unfair exchange.”

Our dreams become so powerful that it pushes us and motivates us so that we are never caught in a place where we find an opportunity but it passes us by because we didn’t make that unfair exchange earlier in time. I begin to wonder that if we’re not dreaming then are we really living? I hope I never get to a place in my life where I feel as if I’ve arrived. As if I feel that I’ve accomplished everything I’ve set out to do, everything I’ve set out to be. I don’t want to leave things undone, but it sure would be nice to say before I go that I still had dreams I was working towards.

To all our readers I say to you never stop dreaming and never stop trying to make those dreams your reality. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous, nor how far fetched. Someone dreamt one day that we could go to the moon and now we have a rover on Mars. So let yourself dream and don’t let those dreams simply be blown away with the wind. Get out there and make great things happen, prepare yourself for opportunity and while you’re waiting dream some more.

Until next time……Adventure On!

Categories: Insight, Outdoor Adventure, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Secret Superpower


Have you ever hung around someone from a different region of the country?

I had a friend in the military, his name was Brandon, and he was from New Hampshire. We would hang out when we weren’t on duty and being that he was a New Englander he had certainly phrases and ways of saying things (colloquialism) that were very different from my Ohio upbringing. Eventually I found myself saying things the way he did. Listening to the same music, and even smoking the same cigarettes that he did. My friend had a secret superpower that I had never even knew existed.

Influence.

He never set out to influence me, it happened by chance. If you spend enough time with someone they tend to rub off on you. You pick up phrases, habits, even world views. Think about it. Do you see the world the same now as when you were in high school? A lot of people’s view of life changes when they get to college or have a life changing experience. I see the world differently now then from when I wasn’t disabled. People, books, movies, experiences, all of these and more have an influence over us, but have you ever stopped to wonder what you influence everyday?

My son loves video games and movies. If he could he’d sit on the couch all day long and rot his brain until it’s seeping out of his ears. I’m not talking about National Geographic documentaries that we used to watch, no I’m talking about cartoons that offer up nothing but 22 minutes of mindless entertainment. He’d do it all day and all night without question.

Back in 2009 we took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It reawakened my desire to explore the outdoors again; it had been put on the back burner for awhile, but now it was burning hot again. Eventually this led to a desire to try rock climbing. After researching and reading, watching videos and day dreaming my family and I spent a Saturday afternoon  at a local outfitter and their bouldering cave in the basement. Needless to say we were exhausted after about fifteen minutes. I was sweating, I was tired, my forearms wanted to slap me in the face then go run into a corner and cry they hurt so bad.

I was hooked. SN852092

It was exercise that wasn’t exercise. It was fun and new. Our son was four years old about to turn five and he was hooked too. Now he’s on a climb team and we’re in the second year of climbing and members at a climbing gym. We volunteered at a recent comp and anytime my son hears the words Vertical Endeavors he pipes up, smiles, and wonders when we’re going to go. He hates leaving the gym. He can’t stand to take his shoes off. Chalked up hands, sweaty, tired and wanting more and more. He climbs until his little hands hurt and the skin is peeling off where callouses form. He transforms from a couch potato to a little crushing climber.

Influence.

My little guy would have never gotten the climbing bug had I not influenced him and given him the experience and shared with him what has become a mutually attraction to this terrific outdoor adventure. He has yet to catch on to my love of hiking (too much walking he says) but when he gets out there he loves it. I’ve taken him snowshoeing and I find that who I am and what I endorse influences him more then what I realize. My values and favorites all-of-a-sudden become his during our conversations.

Me: “Mmmm…. I love asparagus it’s one of my favorite vegetables!”

Son: “It’s one of my favorite vegetables too!” (This after him never having eaten them before…..ever)

We can influence the next generation, we can influence our friends and family, our influence can stretch beyond our zip codes, our race, our gender, and our language. It’s a superpower that has no bounds, but it’s a superpower that should have boundaries. It should be harnessed and focused for good; for the betterment of those who look to us and glean from us. They incorporate it into their lives. So what are people incorporating into their lives being around you? Is it a love for the outdoors that is positive and ethical? Is your influence one that inspires greatness in others?

If you’re not a comic book/movie nerd who has read/seen Spider-Man let me borrow a quote from Uncle Ben.

“With great power comes great responsibility”

What are you going to do with your superpower?

How do you use your superpower?

How do you use your superpower?

For good or evil?

For good or evil?

Until next time………..Adventure On!

Categories: Climbing, Family Vacation, Hiking, Insight, Outdoor Adventure, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Hodge Podge Post


So today’s post isn’t going to be focused on just one thing, my mind is on my upcoming family vacation and thinking about all the write-ups we’ll be doing when we get back. Oh and the 4,000 miles of driving we’ll be doing. It’s a road trip, with stops in Tennessee and then down to Florida and back. Why would I chose to drive 4,000 miles when they have made these new fangled things called airplanes. Because airplanes are for wusses.

Yep…that looks about right.

So today we’re going to be discussing training (I hear your collective moan; it’s not that kind of discussion) and our families 2012 goal to hike 100 Trail Miles and how we’ve shot ourselves in the foot.

Training with a Purpose

I’m not a huge fan of exercise. Really I’m not. I prefer the whole “eat Fritos and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on the couch while watching a good movie and keeping warm under my favorite fleece blanket” activity. One of the reasons why I hate exercise is because it’s just so darn hard. Don’t get me wrong I love to hike and climb, but the Stairmaster and the treadmill and the weight machines, they really are no fun. Then there are squats. Squats just outright suck. The deadlift is right behind that too.

So you’ll see that I’m not one of those hardcore, ‘roided, endurance athlete, self-punishing for pleasure, sickos you might see at your local gym. I choose to quietly laugh and ridicule those type of people; I’d point my finger at them if I weren’t so busy trying to suck wind and stay alive. However as much as I want to believe that Twinkies and Oatmeal Creme Pies are the way to summit mountains and crank on crimps it just doesn’t work that way. Plus, I’m a cripple so I’ve got that working against me too.

My body can only take so much abuse. I’ve wrecked my shoulders in the first year of climbing and my knees outright hate me after a few miles on flat terrain. I’ve topped the scales at 205 lbs a far cry from where I used to be in the military at 155 lbs. My metabolism didn’t just slow down, it broke down and my activity level plummeted with my accident. Add it all up and it’s not conducive to a lifestyle of a successful outdoor athlete, no matter what you want to say. So I decided one day that it was time to get back to the gym and to start training my body. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I was four months along in this photo.

I’ve read books many climbing books on the topic (this one, this one, and this one) and they all kind of say the same things. “The best way to train is to climb/hike/backpack/insert activity here” but I’ve found that isn’t the case for everyone. In the month-and-a-half I’ve been hitting the gym on the regular I’ve seen the largest growth in my climbing since I began. I didn’t buy new shoes (actually went back to my flat-last non-sport climbing shoes) and I didn’t magically grow super skills. I just trained my whole body and changed the way I ate.

My strength has improved, I’m climbing at a full grade higher, and my endurance has increased. I only climb once a week, and even then I only get to maybe seven sport routes a night max. I’ve seen my energy increase, and even my hiking endurance has shot through the roof. I haven’t been training for climbing specifically, or any sport for that manner. I don’t campus or do hang board training, I don’t use a weighted belt for pull-ups, or a weighted backpack (yet). I do nine simple exercises and then some cardio. The same ones every workout 3-4 times a week. I lift two times a week and do endurance cardio 1-2 times a week. No personal trainer, just basic machine exercises and sometimes I don’t even do all nine, I usually choose 5-6 one night and MAYBE 2-3 the other.

One of the things that keeps me motivated to hit the gym is it gives me a chance to laugh at the people that spend their lives there working on specific muscle groups in order to look super buff and swollen. They do one exercise to blast that third muscle fiber on the left bicep for maximum growth. While I’m in-and-out in 70 minutes having done a full routine. What a bunch of tools!  I giggle in your general direction.

See…..even my son is laughing at you.

I also giggle at the person who aimlessly wanders the gym looking at the machines and weights but never breaks a sweat. Also the person working out so lightly that they can read a book, watch a TV show, and hold a conversation all at the same time. Oh…. and if you’re one of those persons who carries their phone with them and has a conversation on it instead of working out but still sits on the machine like you’re doing something, just stop. Please, just stop…..you annoy me and everyone else.

So I found that training my whole body in a non-specific routine had yielded for me the best results. So tell me, what works for you?

A 100 Mile Update

For anyone who has been following this blog you know that we set a goal as a family (we had many but only this one is relevant to TBC) to hike 100 trail miles in 2012. It was a great feat for us to try as we have a six year old who isn’t fond of taking long walks in the woods, and our schedules make it difficult to get out but maybe once or twice a month. Summer was hot, I mean real hot which doesn’t bode well for a man with an SCI (spinal cord injury) as the heat and humidity drain my strength and suffocate me with every step.

We started off the year very slowly taking 1-2 mile trips, we didn’t get out a few months and fell well behind. One of the reasons we didn’t get at it full-steam is we didn’t think our son could handle it. We were wrong, so very very wrong. We underestimated the hiking power of our little man and we’re going to pay the price for it by not making our goal.

Currently we have 48 miles to go and less then two months to do it in. We found out near the end just how far our little guy can go when he pulled off a personal best (along with my wife who wasn’t much of a hiker or outdoors athlete until she married me and she’s pregnant too) when he hiked for 8.6 miles last month. Had we known he had this kind of staying power we might be closing in on 150 miles and not just crossing the 50 mile mark. As I stated earlier we have a vacation coming up and we’re looking at tackling over 20 miles in total. Getting us close to the 80 mile mark, but short of the 100 we need.

Never underestimate this boys hiking power…or his trailblazing skills.

All-in-all it’s been a great success. We’ve done more and learned more then we would have had we not set the goal and it helped us to reallocate our time and energy to make room for hitting the trail. We developed a game to help our son get his mind off the miles (trail bingo) and if he scores enough bingo’s he gets a prize (a new video game….yea yea I understand the irony of using an outdoor activity and rewarding it with a soul-sucking, mind numbing indoor activity… stop judging me). We also found out that we love a hot trail meal (thank you JetBoil and mac ‘n cheese) it helps to lift our spirits and boosts morale for the troops.

So before we go we wish you all a lovely Thanksgiving with friends and family, and as always…..Adventure On!

(PS: We will be coming back just not for two weeks so check the archives for a lot of good posts)

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Climbing, Family Vacation, Hiking, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

So Many Missed Opportunities


Venturing off trail at Devil’s Lake State Park (picture taken by my brother-in-law)

I just received a letter from my son’s school, they were informing parents of the open house that is happening at the end of August. Seeing a letter addressed to us from the school district caused me pause and to take a look at the calendar. Shocked I couldn’t believe that July was almost over, by the time you read this it will have passed.

The summer is nearly gone, and with it almost 75% of the calendar year. This provoked me to review some of the goals that I had made back at the beginning of the year, can you say disappointed? One goal stood out, our 100 Miles in 2012. There was/is no way we’re going to reach it, just too many missed opportunities.

One of the terrific challenges with being a disabled man is my ability to cope with adverse weather conditions, specifically extreme heat and cold. Living in Minnesota is a challenge nearly year-round. In the winter time the mercury drops and due to my neurological difficulties body temperature regulation ceases to exist. My knees to my toes become icicles and can at times be uncomfortable and sometimes painful to deal with. During the summer when the humidity is so high and the air so thick I am exposed to a higher risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. So when the sun is high and the temperature up I have to avoid the trail or even being outside at all less I drench myself in sweat and collapse three miles in.

I’ve spent most of the summer inside my air-conditioned home. As the days grew longer my outdoor time grew shorter. My weekends were spent doing chores and not logging miles. I did take a 1.5 mile hike with my family (immediate and extended) a few weekends ago. We covered 500′ vertical feet in .3 miles, needless to say I was soaked, and you would have wondered if I were intoxicated because I couldn’t walk a straight line. Such is the pattern of behavior I have lived over the last 12 years.

When the temps exceed 80/85, I become a mole and burrow for cooler areas. However, this means I miss out on three of the most beautiful months of the year. Add the extreme cold in January and February and I’m a seven months out-of-the-year fella. I don’t know about you but that’s too many missed opportunities for me.

So now we have to make peace with coming up short of 100 miles. It was great for us in that it caused us to get out on purpose. We’ve enjoyed many of our hikes, and discovered how tough our son is and how he can log the miles….. and it turns out that I’m the weak-link and when we set a goal next year we might have to convert from miles to the metric system.

Until next time…..Adventure On!

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Backpacking, Camping, Climbing, Geocaching, Hiking, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Importance of Passion


Hi, my name is Jayson and I used to regularly write for this blog! I’m the one who puts Bionic in The Bionic Chronicles. I’ve had to re-focus my time and attention elsewhere which prohibits me from contributing to this blog as often as I desired. Thankfully my wife has taken over and done a fantastic job, I enjoy her writing better than my own and I think you would all agree.

I went to the climbing gym the other today to relieve some stress and get a good workout in, however I failed to acquire both of those goals. I left wondering why my time at the gym lacked any satisfaction what made the experience such a horrible one. I thought that maybe it was because of my shoulder not being able to make some of the reaches, maybe it was my feet not being able to stay on the holds because of my disability, maybe both. Then I remembered that I have experienced both of those before but continued to climb on, so why was today any different? Then it came to me, I was climbing alone and I didn’t get into this activity as a loner.

This is where my passion lies.

This led me down a path of discovery about myself and about passion and the importance of having that in one’s life. I work in a field which is driven by performance, results, and numbers. I have taken this approach at times to many of my outdoor endeavors. Trek the miles, climb the routes, tick off the problems, go farther, faster, climb higher and harder and it has become all about the results. So what happens when you don’t achieve those results? Why does falling at the crux of a problem devastate you and destroy your whole day of climbing? I’d venture to say it’s because you lost your passion for it, and replace it with a duty/job mentality……. I’ve done the same thing.

I’ve found that some of the most amazing times I’ve experienced has been with my family when we don’t have an agenda. When we’re not necessarily trying to accomplish some great feat of outdoor prowess. When we can stop and throw rocks into a lake or river. When we can take our shoes off and wade through a waterfall and stream, when we’re having fun at the climbing gym going after fun routes and not necessarily trying to test our mettle. When we’re playing my wife’s favorite game “Can I climb that?”.

Benjamin winning this round of “Can I Climb It?”

[Sidebar] For those of you who have never played let me tell you the rules, one person scouts around, whether on a walk, hike, or even in the car and finds something that looks like you can throw a rope on it, or a crash pad under it and then you debate about whether you can climb it. There’s even an urban edition. [End Sidebar]

When we’ve come into a situation and a time together without a specific goal and without a specific reason it is far greater experience. When we are able to let our passion run free we glean the most out of every moment. No goals, no time limits, no worries or concerns. Pure passion, pure joy, pure fun and excitement.

It was an eye opening experience for me, something that I never want to forget. Keep the passion in our adventures by keeping the work mindset out of it. Yes, goals are important and they are a good thing. We have several this year, the big one being that as a family we hike 100 trail miles in 2012. We’re almost half-way through the year, but only one-quarter of the way to our goal, but the fun we’ve had (some hikes more then others) and the memories we’ve made are worth far more then the achievement of getting to the century mark.

Keep the passion, enjoy the journey, and until next time….. Adventure On!

This is what getting outside is all about.

Categories: 100 miles in 2012, Climbing, Hiking, Insight, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guest Post: A Wife’s Perspective


A recent conversation between the Bionic Hiker and myself went like this:

BH: You should write a guest post for my blog!

Me: What would I write about?

BH: You could write about what its like to be married to a disabled athlete.

Me: How many posts can you write about applying Tiger balm?

So without further ado, here are some of my thoughts on being married to an outdoor enthusiast and aspiring athlete who also happens to have a disability.

Walking the line between being a reality check and a buzz kill.

When my husband first began expressing interest in rock climbing and mountaineering, it was difficult for me to share the excitement.  With his physical condition, he already deals with pain on a daily basis.  I was not interested in him introducing new pain.  It didn’t help that he was devouring books on high altitude expeditions and routinely sharing about death and mayhem.

His excitement also started shortly after a Yellowstone trip in 2010.  Most of the time I think the Bionic Hiker makes good decisions in outdoor adventures, however, on this particular trip I had refused to go on a hike.  He had started down the sloppy muddy trail in the rain while I stood at the trailhead with our 3 year old son refusing to hike a rim trail

A wife-approved trail in Yellowstone (Elephant Back Mountain)

where there was a large sign stating “Hike at your own risk, children not recommended”. I wasn’t interested in seeing my husband loose his balance and slip and slide over the edge or futilely try to keep my son on the inside of the trail from the rim while he was loosing traction during the poor conditions.

So at times the disability feels like a henchman lurking behind a bush waiting to come and knock him out.  While I’m not necessarily a good protector against men wielding crowbars, sometimes I trick myself into thinking if I say the right thing I can keep him from harm or danger.  I know, its so silly to think a husband would actually listen to his wife.  So in the meantime, it’s always there, and I balance concern and fear of future suffering with being a supportive partner.

The first time he tried rock climbing is a prime example.  His first time in a rock climbing class resulted in an injury that required months of physical therapy and a miserable car ride home.  He was ready to give up and I was ready to agree with him.  I didn’t want to watch him incur injury after injury trying to do something his body simply couldn’t handle.  I’m glad he proved me wrong and he has quickly surpassed my ability.  I almost discouraged him from it in the name of being a “reality check” when I really would have been killing a dream.  Which is why I have supported him returning to the sport that almost took his life (skiing).

On the positive side

For the 30 years I’ve been on this planet, I’ve considered myself an uncoordinated non athlete with an aversion to anything labeled a sport.  However, I can’t exactly sit comfortably on the sidelines using pathetic excuses when the Bionic Hiker manages to stay active and challenge himself physically.  Bad memories of dodge ball from my school years don’t hold weight next to having two steel bars in ones back.  I never would have tried rock climbing had it not been for him, and he’s started me on course leading to a much healthier and happier me.

When we are both trying new things, I don’t have the self-consciousness that other women with my self-imposed labels might have (at least most of the time!).  With my lack of ability and his disability we almost have a level playing field.  🙂

I have to say that the Bionic Hiker is quite admirable.  He is the one that could choose self-consciousness because of the limp he walks with or the challenges he faces while learning to climb, but his zest for life trumps that card.

So until next time, adventure on without abandon.

Categories: Climbing, Hiking, Insight, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Argument I Keep Losing


So I am sidelined yet again.

No more climbing for the Bionic Man, at least not for awhile. The tendinitis in my right shoulder is SLOWLY getting better, but I feel tendinitis in my left shoulder starting. I also am experiencing forearm pain that only shows up when I pull…..it’s got me wondering if I have a micro or stress fracture.

I keep getting into verbal fights with my body, it appears that my body isn’t too fond of me yelling at it and secretly start breaking down on me. My bodies continued debilitation is the direct result of my disability. The two go hand-in-hand and it’s hindering my progress.

I’ve been trying and trying to find a way to overcome this deficiency, but I have yet to determine a suitable answer. I’ve put on an ankle brace which I hoped would help to stabilize my ankle but I’m not sure if it’s just a placebo effect. I also wear a knee brace to protect my left knee because the inside tendons and ligaments seem to be challenging me lately. I tried putting on my right ankle brace (it’s a different style and brand) but it wouldn’t fit inside the shoe. One of the teens climbing stared at me the other day while I was walking around the bouldering area. I think she wondered why I was even there. My calves are non-existent and I wear braces on my left leg. I have no business climbing at all…..but I have no common sense so why should I listen to reason!

I’m going to be taking about a month off of climbing, give my body time to recoop and to work on strengthening my rotator cuff muscles. I still don’t know how to solve my foot problems. If I don’t solve them soon and figure out a way to climb with this disability I’m going to spend 6 months climbing and 6 months doing therapy to recover. I’ll end up climbing every other month and make no progress at all. I’ve thought about maybe getting new shoes however I am wary that it’s just a bunch of hype. I was climbing a problem with my wife tonight and did it barefoot so do climbing shoes really give you so much of an edge? I wear a pair of Evolv K-Lace shoes. They are a beginner shoe made on a flat last. They are supposed to provide decent edging and I certainly like the way they feel. I’ve wondered though if I would be better off with a downturn shoe made for superior edging. I wonder if getting a shoe that purposefully curls my toes and provides good edging support will help my compensate somewhat for my disability?

I don’t know if it will really work, I could go and try out a pair and see if the staff at my climbing gym will let me climb a problem or two in them and see if they do indeed work better. We’ll have to wait and see.

So to the climbing community out there I ask, what are your opinions on climbing shoes? Do you feel and experience a difference between flat and downturn shoes? Would love to hear you weigh in.

Update: A few of my twitter friends weighed in and said that I would definetly see a marked performance. I am slowly leaning the way of a downturn shoe. I’ve now got decision between two pairs. I would still enjoy to hear opinions from my readers. User reviews and insight is always more welcome then company product hype.

Until next time……Climb On!

Categories: Climbing, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

They Call Me Flapper John or I Can’t Read!


So I think I’m going to adopt a new nickname. I’m also thinking of changing my Twitter handle from @TheBionicHiker to @FlapperJohn.

I went climbing at the St. Paul Vertical Endeavors on Saturday night. Took the whole family but since my little guy was on the tail end of fighting influenza he just sat playing his Leapfrog Leapster and was the most well-behaved he’s ever been in a situation like that.

Side note: My son told me that he doesn’t like rock climbing which is why he doesn’t climb too high. Turns out he’s not a fan of roped climbing but he’s was nearly begging us to boulder. I feel the same way at times.

Back to my story . . .  so we had a great family time. We’re not sure about whether we want to get a membership there or keep the fitness membership we already have. We’re doing Pro’s & Con’s; can’t tell you whose leading right now.

To make a long story less long I tore my hands apart. I had a ton of ‘flappers’. If you don’t know what they are, it is when skin is torn from your hand and just flaps in the wind. I tore off calluses and other skin from various parts of my hand. See the picture showing you the ouch zones.

Can You Find the Seven Hidden Flappers in this Picture?

That wasn’t the only problem I had……I really sucked it up tonight. I finished one climb….the whole night. I managed to pull off a 5.7 on an auto-belay and I think I may have only used one foothold that wasn’t marked in the routes color. I was happy because it’s the first route I have ever finished. I tried another and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how it went. So after getting frustrating with not being able to get more then 10′ off the deck I decided to head upstairs to the easy bouldering cave. I say easy because it’s not super overhanging and I needed a confidence boost. I should have looked elsewhere.

I found a nice V0 (easiest problem in bouldering) and I decided to give it a go. I fell, and I fell hard. I hit the back of my head, knocking off my hat, nearly knocked off my glasses, and almost bit through my tongue. So like any sane climber…..I tried it again, and again, and again. I didn’t finish the problem, but I did improve my falling!

My right hand took the worst of it, 4 flappers to 3.

So a climber came over, having felt so much pity on me and showed me how to climb the problem. I got to the part that kept alluding me, but with this new beta I knew I’d finish, until my shoulder began acting up. Yep, it was a one arm hang from a horn with the feet spread out and then a pull up to a 3-finger pocket. My left foot popped and my right shoulder couldn’t take the stress and off I came. I had tried swinging and mini-dynos all night long and coming within 1 finger of sticking the hold. I would leave not being able to finish it.

I tried twice downstairs on a 5.8+ and a 5.6 and couldn’t pull either off. I was gassed, my body was tired and mentally I was shot. My confidence was crushed even though I know it shouldn’t be. I try really hard and I know my technique leaves MUCH to be desired. It’s difficult when you have a bum shoulder, your calves don’t work, you don’t trust your legs, and your knee begins acting up. I know this is only the sixth time I’ve ever climbed and my stamina is really improving, but I hate excuses I hate blaming failure on a disability or being a novice. I really wanted to stick that problem.

I was really struggling to even see how a route/problem went. I’d get going and wonder “Um . . . ok what the heck am I supposed to do now?” I tried my best to stay on the marked tapes to really see where I was at ability wise. Sometimes I just looked at where the movements were supposed to go and I saw nothing. I hope my climbing eyes develop over time.

I did get one great takeaway from this and it was a list of things to improve upon. I think that no matter what failure shouldn’t go by and be left as simply failure. I would encourage everyone to look at everything you face and pull something out of nothing. Never let a hardship, failure, success, or struggle go by without learning something about yourself. Here is what I learned.

1. Be Patient

I kept trying to fly up the routes. I would half jump to holds and leave myself dangling, especially when I know the problem. Going slow saves energy and allows one time to think.

2. Be Even More Patient

I gotta be patient with my progress and allow myself time to develop and to understand that I’ve got some disadvantages that need to be worked through.

3. Understand Why You’re Doing This

Climbing was a form of exercise and a chance to spend time with the family doing something other than watching movies. I’m not a pro and I shouldn’t try to push myself to prove myself either. I need to stop thinking about what other think of how I climb and just enjoy that I can.

4. Use Your Legs More By Trusting in Them More

I don’t trust my legs to hold me or propel me up a problem or route. I don’t use them as much as I should and I need to. They’re not going to get better if I don’t use them and begin to put some trust in them. Even if that means I don’t get up too high I need to develop as a well-rounded climber, and that means using all my body.

Categories: Climbing, Insight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Am I Peaking Early?


It is stereotypical for men when they reach what many may call a ‘mid-life crisis’ for them to act out in certain ways and display sometimes peculiar or even bizarre behavior.

The man may act out by leaving his wife for a younger woman. Trade in the family four-door for the sports car he always wanted. Maybe he quits his job and chases deer through the forest, I don’t know. Typically this crisis has been associated with a radical change in behavior, values, and priorities. I think I might be experiencing one myself.

I have realized that over the last year or so desires I long thought dormant or never knew existed have taken a flying leap to the forefront and are compelling me to consider things I once thought impossible, or improbably for me.

“I think it would be outstanding to climb El Cap and The Matterhorn, I would love to be able to climb both of those” I said to my wife.

Fifteen minutes later when she came to after her fainting spell she gave me a look of shock and awe.

My wife's reaction....if she were a cartoon, and had blue hair.

By the way she looked at me it was as if I said to her,

“I stole the neighbors dog, come see!”

or

“I sold everything we own for a few magic beans that will take us to a wonderland filled with brussels sprouts and artichokes!”

or

“hey honey, I know I’m crippled, and that we have a child, and that when I stand it’s difficult for me to stay in one place because of my disability but I think it would be great for me to risk life and limb climbing a mountain for no real purpose but to experience the rush of doing so, a few pictures, and feeling of accomplishment!”

I mean really….. I think she over dramatized things a bit.

So where did this desire to take month-long backpacking trips come from? A few years ago I was content with furthering my career in investment finance and now I’m adding arduous outdoor recreation activities to the mix. I get antsy if I haven’t been to the gym in over three days, and I find myself annoyed if I haven’t gotten outside for  a length of time away from the house and surrounded by trees, bluffs, rivers, creeks, hills, or other such features. My favorite pair of shoes are my Merrell hikers followed by my Evolv climbing shoes.

For Christmas this year I bought myself renewed subscriptions to my favorite outdoor mags and I spend nights in front of the fireplace with my wife watching climbing videos and National Geographic as a way to scout new places we should visit. I’m addicted to the LiveWell Network’s Motion TV show (find it here) and Fitz Cahall’s The Season (find it here). Change is everywhere it seems.

I just turned 34, so I don’t think I’m experiencing a mid-life crisis just an awakening of something that was once dormant. Funny how this was all awakened by a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park. Like the caldera beneath my outdoor fervor lie undisturbed, boiling and building to a head.

From this awakening I’ve gotten my creativity back and hopefully by the June/July of 2012 I’ll have launched a brand new project I’ve been brainstorming. I might leak a few details here and there but for me it’s an exciting venture that I’m hoping will succeed and surpass my wildest imaginations!

Until next time……adventure on!

Categories: Backpacking, Climbing, Hiking, Insight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Importance of Health (or Get Up and Get Moving Chubby!)


I recently read a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers Cragmama. If you want to read the post (I suggest you do, you can find it here).

I’ve written there about the importance of health before, if you desire to read my rant (I DEMAND you do, you can find it here).

I cannot even begin to express the importance of living an active and healthy lifestyle, whether you have a disability or not. If you are someone who is disabled might I suggest checking out this new organization I was introduced to while watching Fitz Cahall’s The Season and following the story of amputee climber Craig DeMartino. He is a Paradox Sports athlete, and a terrific one at that. They do climbs and outdoor human-powered sports for those with disabilities. Donate, join, support!

At the beginning of 2011 I made the decision to get back into a more streamlined and less rounded shape. In 2010 I decided to start consuming foods that were better for me. I cut out fruit juices (empty calories) and started to withdraw my dairy usage and left soda to only very special occasions. In 2012 my family is starting to buy more fair trade and use less toxic substances. Slow changes, but good ones. Anyways…. I began going to the gym and lifting, adding in 30-45 min of cardio two times a week to improve cardiovascular performance and health. I began shedding excess weight and I noticed a terrific change in my mood, energy, mental faculties, and a reduction in pain when I went to bed and woke the next morning.

In April of this year my daughter was stillborn because of a birth defect and exercise didn’t seem to be important. At a time when I should have turned to exercise to help deal with stress and grief I instead turned to sleep and food. I added the weight back on and then some. My joints hurt, I couldn’t think clearly, and I lost the zest and pep I once had. My love for the trail is what finally prompted me to do something. I was having trouble fitting into pants and I was too tired while hiking a simple trail. It was time for my wife and I to return to who we once were, vibrant and alive.

Radical changes were made to our diet. We eliminated probably 80-90% of the processed foods in our diet, added 3-4 vegetarian meals a week, and added more fish to the mix. Red meat was included only 1-2 a month and we eventually joined a gym when I convinced my wife it was the best option to climb better. The spark of outdoor love fueled our changes as we realized that the memory of daughter could come with us as we hiked and geocached by placing plastic toy butterflies into the caches we found.

In the end it came down to a decision of being sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time. I had a choice to make, get out and enjoy what surrounds me and stay healthy enough to tackle new and exciting adventures (like ice climbing, oh dear oh dear oh dear do I want to go ice climbing!!!!) to undertake and complete goals such as a 50-mile backpacking trip, and to be able to enjoy my grandchildren and keep up with them when I’m older, slower, and more likely to fall asleep and tucker out.

What you eat, how you exercise, and how you take care of your body if a series of choices that extends far outside of just you. It affects everyone you are close to. I don’t want to be the father who is confined to a wheelchair when I had the power, opportunity, and ability to make a change. To force my children to care for me because I was too lazy to care for myself.

Some of you follow or read me (hopefully on a  regular) I have tendonitis/bursitis in my shoulder. An inflammation of the tendon which causes movements to be painful. I have found a marked difference in my movement and pain from consuming more anti-inflammatory foods, so I know first hand what a difference the food you eat and the life you live makes.

The holidays are coming up so much food will be consumed, but it’s just as easy to eat healthy, it’s all about priorities. So I encourage everyone, to get out, get active, and adventure on!

Categories: Backpacking, Climbing, Hiking, Insight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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