I’ve met some awe-inspiring people in my life. People who have climbed Everest—some more than once. Some who have won Olympic medals and let me hold the medal in my hand. I even put my arm around David Byrne once but, truth be told, he wasn’t that excited about.
There’s a feeling that comes from being close to greatness—a feeling that makes you ask more from yourself. For me, that feeling didn’t come from meeting these people who had accomplished feats far beyond my imagination. For me, it came much closer to home.
When my older sister told me she set a goal to climb the 48, 4,000 ft peaks in New Hampshire, it wasn’t that I didn’t think she could do it, rather it surprised me that she wanted to. This was not something that lined with who I thought Andrea was. My sister enjoys reading and knitting. Friends and cocktails. I would have put hiking far down the list of things my sister wanted to do in her free time.
But Andrea has blown my mind with her vision, her commitment to getting after her goal, and her willingness and ability to change the way she views herself and her life. Through her I am learning that no matter who we have been, or for how long, the opportunity to define ourselves, or to redefine ourselves, is always there.
It’s been nearly a year since I flew home to New Hampshire and hiked the peaks in this video. Andrea completed her goal in September together with her hiking friends, our stepmother and all three of her children. Having joined Andrea on so many of her hikes during the course of the year, our stepmother realized she was within arms reach of accomplishing the same goal. On Friday January 29, 2016 I get to join Andrea and our stepmother as we go for Annie’s 48th peak. There is nothing that compares to spending time together on the trail—laughing, talking and working hard Listening to the quiet sounds of the birds and the water flowing underneath the ice. Seeing rosy cheeks and a runny nose on someone you love.
I feel immensely proud of Andrea and her accomplishment, but mainly I feel grateful. She’s renewed my love for the mountains and reminded me of how strong and happy I feel when I’m on the trail. Best of all, she awakened in me the desire to create memorable, outdoor experiences with my daughter. Last summer, my daughter and I kicked off what I hope will be a long tradition of backpacking together. At 4.5 years old, she tackled a 9 mile backpacking trip in the Sierra, swam in an alpine lake, gathered firewood, sterilized water and fell asleep under the open sky. Andrea reminded me that any day in the mountains, truly is “The Best Day Ever.”