Eventually we came to the conclusion that if we were really going to do this, we needed to join a gym. It's just not feasible to do real incline training with two kids, one who is simply too big to carry up the side of a mountain anymore. We went to the gym around 3 times/week, gradually increasing the time we spent on the treadmill, but above all, doing STAIRS. We got into a good rhythm, and I would text my brother with a report of how many floors I'd done each day. At some point, I made him commit to a weekend that he could take off work, I scheduled my mom to babysit, and it all became real.
For our final training feat we enlisted some awesome friends to watch our kids for an entire Saturday and completed the training hike for Mt. Rainier together with packs on - see previous post. It was so much fun!! Just being outside, using our muscles and trying to beat the clock felt great. An added bonus was the hours of conversation about anything and everything we were able to have. (This is a rare luxury between the demands of grad school and two small children)
In August of last year we drove to Idaho loaded up with backpacks and outdoor clothes and other supplies. We left the kids with my mom, drove to Jackson to get our permit at the crack of dawn, and we were ready!!
|I sent this to my brother the day before we left to make sure I was ready.|
We woke up early early in the morning - around 3am - and got started on day 2 of our adventure. It. Was. Breathtaking. I've never seen anything like the stars up there - laid out above the canyon between the Middle and Grand Teton at about 10,000 feet. It's also amazing to watch all of the hikers streaming past with headlamps on, getting higher and higher as they climb! There are climbers going past at all hours of the day/night. Some people start at night and summit at sunrise. Some, like us, camp and then start early in the morning. They were walking past our tent all night and all morning.
One of my favorite parts of the climb was the part called "Threading the Needle." You go through a small opening, crawl through kind of a short cave, and come out the other side onto a fairly stark drop off. Suddenly, you can see the top - you can also see what's below you. This part, I loved!
We pushed on - I was so determined to make it. We reached the final stage of the climb, where you start to rope in and work around some serious exposure. This is about 400 feet short of the summit, and within 2 miles of hiking. Unfortunately, we got stuck behind a tour group and waited in an open area at above 13,000 feet for almost an hour. I started shivering and crying uncontrollably. I didn't think I could get down OR go up. Eventually, my brother tied me to himself and I was able to move forward.