So Glad We’re Doing This Now

Yesterday evening in the RV, Timm and I were huddled around a map of the Canadian territories and Alaska planning the next leg of our journey. We sat across from each other at our kitchen table with the map spread out in between us.  I glanced at him with his reading glasses on through my own glasses and realized that we’re becoming old people. In my imagination, I saw many years into the future when we’re much older.  I said to him, “I’m glad we’re doing this now.”

Shadow and Timm at the top of Windy Peak in Golden Gate Canyon.

Regularly, Timm or I will say, “I’m so glad we’re doing this trip now.”  This comment is triggered by a number of circumstances.  One is when we feel our age.  Timm and I are both 47 years old, which is not to say we’re old.  Fortunately, we are relatively fit and blessed with good health. Yet, we’re aging just like everyone does, plain and simple.  Nothing major, just the normal signals that the body is not in it’s youth anymore, drifting past it’s prime and on the slow decline towards being old.  The signals are subtle and mild but present on what seems to be a more frequent basis.  Maybe it’s knees that feel a twinge after a long hike or eyes that can no longer see a distant detail without squinting. 

Theresa observes a bison from a distance.

Just today on our hike in Wind Cave National Park, I noticed my eyes are not what they used to be as I looked through binoculars at the abundant wildlife.  We were blessed to see 3 bison, 2 pronghorn antelope, several elk and countless prairie dogs.  We enjoy spending time sitting at a distance watching these creatures in their own habitat.  Even with binoculars, I notice my distance sight is not as sharp as it once was.

Doing this trip the way we dreamed also means taking long hikes into the backcountry where we enjoy solitude and unspoiled scenery.  Our favorite hikes often involve climbing up a mountain to a vista with 360-degree panoramic views with not a human structure in sight.  To do this usually requires putting in some distance and a steep upward climb.  Timm has been tracking this distance and elevation gain since we started the trip.  So far, we hiked 238.6 miles for a 28,595 feet elevation gain.  We’ve logged 175 hours of hiking time.  This is the trip we wanted to do and it’s pretty clear that if we’d waited another several years, we wouldn’t have been able to hike to where we wanted to go, and see what we wanted to see, the way we wanted to see it.  Propelled by our own feet in our hiking boots with a pack on our backs.  If we had waited, we could still have done a trip, but it wouldn’t have been the trip we wanted to do.

Timm sits in the snow at Mueller State Park.

Regardless of any age-related observations, all this hiking has allowed us to both get in about the best shape of our lives.  Since starting the trip, Timm has lost 13 pounds and I have lost 10.  All due to exercise and healthy eating.  We both have increased our hiking endurance and feel physically good without major aches or pains during or after a long hike.  Just normal tiredness and the realization that we’re not getting any younger.

For some reason, this trip also reminds us of our own mortality.  We’re reminded as we walk on rock that is a billion years old or see a 4,000 year old tree that a human life is just a speck of time.  And all life is fragile and can end at anytime.  We have a friend who is our age who is terminally ill who found out recently that he has only months to live.  Had we been in our car instead of our RV when the police cruiser broadsided us at high speed, none of us would be here to talk about it.  There is no telling when any of us will meet our end; it could be soon or many years from now.  But no matter when, we’ll always be able to say that we took a leap of faith to enjoy this trip when we had the chance. 

After dinner in a quiet, secluded camping spot in Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument, we were watching the sunset.  Timm stood with his arms around me and he said, “Someday, if we’re very lucky, we’ll grow old together.  One day, I’ll say to you, ‘Remember that sunset we watched in Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument?’  Let’s try to remember this moment for the rest of our lives.”

Sunset at Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument.

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