This may surprise some people, but I have NOT always been the almost in shape, outdoorsy, bike riding, hiker guy you see today. Yes, it is true, there was a time there was no Mountainstroh.
Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoyed the outdoors. As a kid my family would go camping more than any other type of vacation. We’d drive to Mt Rainier,
or walk through the Ape Caves near Mt St. Helens. I’d leave camp for hours in search of firewood (This can be translated into “Exploring the woods around us without brothers and sisters tagging along!) There were many times I would leave enough wood in our site for the next two families! (Except for the time my dad built a fire so big the army sent a helicopter to check it out…but I digress…)
During and after my time at Washington State University (GO COUGS!),
there were still camping trips, but these revolved more around beer, girls, water skiing or some river rafting. Nothing to do with being in shape, but hell, back in my 20’s I could eat ANYTHING and never gain a pound, and lord knows there was enough beer consumed to float a horse!
In November of 1995 I was a cubical jockey, working for a local insurance company.
My buddies and I were on a soft tip dart league (We made it to state twice!), but throwing darts does not provide lot of exercise. There is, however, plenty of beer drinking while throwing darts! Funny though, now that I was in my 30s pizza and beer seemed to be making jeans tighter…
So there I was, minding my own business, when a coworker came up and said “Hey, I just signed up to climb Mt. Rainier, want to try it too!”
I did not know this at the time, but this was the moment Mountainstroh was born. If I would have said no, I would have saved $1000s on equipment, 1000s of miles on the station wagon, and who knows how much in first aid supplies/ibuprofen.
I would also probably be 300lbs, and not NEAR as full of happy experiences as I am, and no one would be reading this right now.
I spouted “SURE, why not!” He immediately made plans for us to climb Mt. Si. A local 4 mile long, 4000 ft elevation gain trail in the Cascades. Halfway up since he didn’t stop once, I almost lost the Sausage egg mcmuffin and coffee I had for breakfast (well you need energy when hiking right?) I was hiking in jeans, with cotton long johns underneath, a cotton flannel shirt (I hadn’t learned that “cotton kills in the mountains) and carrying my old college book bag. The mountain gods took pity on the rookie, and I made it to the top, just barely. That’s when I was told “Good job, I took the hard way! I knew you could make it!” I decided it was too much work to push his butt OFF the mountain so I just laid there and tried to breathe.
I had no idea what was involved in climbing Rainier. And in June, Climbing to Camp Muir (10000 ft point of Rainier, and the toughest “trail” in the state while carrying a bowling ball (yep really)) I realized it was NOT to be that year.
However, I was able to climb Si, and other trails, with a 40 lb pack, non-stop, I was stronger and in better shape than I had ever been and MUCH better equipped. I was wowing people with pictures I had taken and places I had gone. It was fun! Even coming home one day with 50 mosquito bites (I counted them) on my chest (rookie mistake #245 that year, I forgot to reapply bug spray) didn’t dampen my new-found joy.! I was never athletic in school, never lettered, and yet I was doing things that others only wished they could do! It was addicting, but addicting to something healthy and good!
That single conversation started me down the path of 18 plus years of adventures.
As we know, I never made it to the summit of Rainier, but I’m good with that, and I have just begun sharing my adventures and accomplishments with y’all! This is what has led me to cycling 10000+ miles! More importantly, there are still a helluva lot of miles left in these legs, and I want to use them all.
I like this man Mountainstroh (I hope yall do as well) and I am VERY glad I was at work and hadn’t played hooky to play darts the day he was born!