In the early morning of Saturday, August 13th, two weeks ago, I reached the summit of Mt. Rainier - 14,416 with a full heart.
Rainier is the Lower 48's second tallest mountain. It was an emotional moment (see video below). Literally, the first thing I did when I arrived was take a picture of my dudedad coin on the pin. I wanted my kids to see what I had done, be proud, and know I was thinking about them...the video came next.
The reason for my emotions was the overall effort it took to reach this peak; Early and arduous 5 a.m. workouts for several months; Several weekend trips away from the family to train at altitude; and finally, the actual climb, which required ~24hrs of hiking (~11hrs of that carrying a 55lb pack) with complete and acute awareness, especially in the dark, just in case you or one of your rope-mates happens to fall (maybe into a crevasse).
It was hard. It was big. And it was scary.
To be honest, my kids don't really prefer hiking. At least, it's not something they choose to do. From their perspective, it's hard and boring...they don't have a sense yet of their surroundings, or what they're accomplishing, as much as I might try to help them recognize it. But, when we get there and we're doing it, you can tell they're enjoying our time together...that's the part they like; that they're with their dad.
Although they weren't there physically, I had my coin in my right front pocket the whole time. In fact, it's there pretty much all the time, everyday. Each time my hand touches it, it makes me think of them. It's a reminder of the best part of me, and why I'm here.
Someday, when they are old enough, they will join me on these backcountry adventures...when it's safe. Until then, I'll bring them in my own way. They might look back on my summit of Rainier, as adults, and say "Wow, Dad, that was pretty cool that you did that," and I'll say, "you were with me the whole time...but guess what; none of my adventures compares - not even close - to the experience of being your dad. It's the best, hands down."