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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Why A Hike is a Big Deal to Me

In my own little world, tomorrow’s trip to Mount Judah is a big deal.

First, let’s talk about history:

When I first visited Sacramento while getting to know Kathleen, I really wanted to drive up and see the Donner area. Lake Tahoe has never captured my imagination in the same way. The terrain and history of that area has always fascinated me. Starting with the early 1840’s stories of the Stephens and Donner party each trying to figure out a way to get over this difficult range (Stephens 1, Donner 0). Followed by a few year’s worth of settlers in the late 1840's, and the gold rush in 1849. In these short years, the parties found cold stream and roller passes, which are higher than Donner pass, but easier for parties to go through. The relatively short hike to Mount Judah’s summit goes through cold stream pass and roller pass. Until the late 1990s, the trail also went through Donner Pass. However, the trailhead was moved in about 2000 to allow Sugarbowl Ski Area to add a new slope. To be fair to Sugarbowl, they built a good alternate trail to replace the closed trail.

Later in the 19th Century comes the Union Pacific, the first transcontinental railway in North America. After a survey of the sierra range, lead by engineer Theodore Judah, the railroad also chose the Donner Pass area as the best crossing. So did the builders of Interstate 80. I think it’s amazing that a few scouts found the same pass as the railroad’s and interstate’s studies.

You can stand on the summit with a map and look down on all this history.

Now, let’s get personal:

For Several years Kathleen and I made sure to have one or two hikes in the mountains. Mount Judah is our favorite because it was our first mountain hike, and the first time I (Mr. Wisconsin) had climbed to a real summit, with a name, a view, and everything!

The last time we went up Mount Judah was our last outing before my major surgery and the sickness that followed. We knew it might be our last chance when we went up on July fifth 2003. I had to eat about 3000 calories of extra food just to make it up the hill.

About a month or two after surgery, as I was beginning to realize that I was not going to spring back to my former state of health, I used some guided imagery CDs to try to get better. When you are desperate, you’ll do almost anything. The CD asked the user to imagine a nice place, where you’d go if you could. I always went back to Mount Judah. As my health continued to not improve, I dropped that routine, since it just made me feel bad that I didn’t really believe I would ever get healthy enough to go up the mountain again.

Well, that’s not what happened. My life may not be perfect, I may not feel great, but I am going back up the mountain!

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

1 comment:

Savannah Devilles said...

Steve,
I so understand what you wrote..
HUGGGGGGGG

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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