A couple of years ago, my husband and I travelled to Chamonix, France. The dream was to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. A 180 km hiking route covering about 10,000 metres of climbing. When we showed up, our excitement was crushed. The snow levels had been high, and the melting process was taking longer than usual. Sections of the trail were closed. Not even guided tour groups were passing through. The Tour de Mont Blanc wasn’t going to happen for us.
Dreams don’t always come true when we expect them to. It doesn’t mean that we should give up on them.
We left Friday Harbour on a ferry and headed to Orcas Island. We didn’t have confirmation of a place to stay that night. We had contacted one of the few places that may have some vacancy, so we took a chance. When we arrived, we drove the peaceful, quiet road, easily sinking into the slow pace of everything and everyone around us. We found the one small ‘main town’ and a lovely breakfast. How delightful!! The food was tremendous, the view was spectacular, and who knew what the day held? After our adventures in escaping from the blazing fires in Oregon (Burning Eyes of Fire) we were definitely ready to turn over a new page on our road trip!
I was SO excited. We were finally hitting the road! It had been a while since we had done any travelling. We had just moved into our first house. It was a huge endeavour that took much more time and energy that I had anticipated. The fruits of our labor included an amazing summer in our new oasis.
I was craving some time on the road. Some time away to explore and be free. We had a great two weeks planned, packed full of craft beer, cycling, and outdoor exploration. We arose before sunset. As we backed out of the driveway in our little Subaru, packed to the brim with bikes and outdoor gear, we were guided by the soft glow of the moonlight.
The summer had been an absolutely terrible one for forest fires. We were fortunate. Being in Alberta, and the fires mostly burning in British Columbia, the most we experienced were some minor inconveniences when we had to cancel cycling or hiking plans due to poor air quality. For those in the heart of it, lives had been changed. I didn’t realize how much, until we embarked on our exciting little road trip.
Whether you THINK you CAN or you CAN’T, either way you are RIGHT!!!
My brother was the one that first brought my attention to this quote. I use it here because it completely describes my grandfather’s approach to life.
My dear grandpa, Isaac (Ike) Doerksen, finally found a place of peace a few days ago after 103 years of life on this earth. I don’t believe that there was any part of his life in which he did NOT believe that if he decided to do something, then he would. The last week of his life was not easy. As his ability to eat, drink water, and even get up slipped away, my family and I watched this man who had been such a strong figure in our lives slowly decline. As his physical being lost it’s strength and became a weak shell of what it used to be, I watched in what was nothing less than total amazement as the strength of mind, soul and spirit emanating from him literally infused the entire room. He didn’t once complain. When I told him I loved him, he used what he had left to tell me he loved me too. He often reached for the loving hand of whoever was sitting with him and gave a healthy squeeze. He displayed such grace right to the end. And as he did his entire life, he didn’t give up easily. He simply lived true perseverance as he always had.
We didn’t know it yet, but, we were nearing the end of a several month adventure. We had left home with hefty backpacks, planning to chase the pro cycling circuit. We had seen a lot of cycling races, done a lot of our own riding, and had also found many other adventures along the way. Coming off of the high of accomplishing some big things in my own cycling journey, I think I was in complete belief that I was the bionic woman!!!
Henry nailed it on the head. You can, literally, talk yourself into or out of anything. It is up to you. I could not have had any more of a lesson on this than the day that I found myself at the bottom of a famous mountain, broken, terrified, and in tears.
Alpe d’Huez is a very famous mountain that has made many appearances in the Tour de France. Composed of a series of 21 switchbacks winding their way up from the valley to the peak, this mountain is not something to take lightly.
When I showed up at Alpe d’Huez, I was not an experienced cyclist, I was not an athlete, I was not in the type of physical condition that one should be to ascend such a monstrous beast.
I had a choice. I could not even try. I could simply give up and declare that I needed to find a way to get back up to the top of the mountain without using my own two feet. Or, I could try. I had travelled all that way. I was at the base of a very famous mountain. I did not know if I would ever be back there. Crying is great – it relieves a lot of tension. Allowing myself to completely break down, be honest about my fear, and to fully take stock of my situation, took me to the conclusion that there was only one option. I had to try. By choosing to face my fear, I found a mental resilience that I didn’t know was there.
I was willing my body up the side of the of mountain, one stretch at a time. Any progress I made was a result of mind over matter. Logically, I should not have been able to ascend. There is nothing logical about will power…it allows you to will yourself to do what seems impossible. When you completely decide to do something, when you choose to believe that you will, is when you really put things into motion.
My journey was nothing as smooth or graceful as the one shown here, by the famous Pantani who holds the record. My journey was one of struggle, brute force, and putting one foot in front of the other. I made my own valiant attempt, in my own way. It wasn’t pretty, but it was one that I will never forget, and one that changed me forever. The day that I chose to climb a mountain, I chose pain, I chose to suffer, and I chose to find my inner strength.
Check out my Alpe d’Huez climb page for more details about the cycling route, where to stay, and my personal experience with this amazing mountain.
I met Vern in an office environment. We were both in the same role, sat close together, and had the habit of arriving early. Thus, we quickly got to know a little about each other.
Vern was immediately a very interesting person to me. It quickly became apparent that he was a ‘no nonsense’, get the job done, kind of guy. I soon learned that Vern had some very interesting life passions. One of them being to summit mountains on a regular basis. When I first learned of this, I was instantly fascinated.
I have had the amazing opportunity to summit a variety of peaks on my bike. Vern was a man who summited monstrous beasts by climbing with his hands and feet. Continue reading “Mountain Man”→