Neither Patty nor myself were behind the barn door when the brains were passed out and we always considered ourselves ourselves as competent individuals. And yet we frequented places that you probably consider as ‘not very smart’ places to visit. Where are these places and why did we go there? These seem like reasonable questions and I will try to answer them.
It all started when when I turned forty. For some long forgotten reason I decided I was going to take up ‘backpacking’. At the time I had only a vague concept of the nature of ‘backpacking’ but that did not deter me from ordering gear from REI. After trying out the new gear I came to the conclusion that I could not learn what I needed to learn by myself. Solo learning from your experiences is a long and uncertain process and I was in a hurry, so I signed up for the Basic Mountaineering Training Course (BMTC) offered by the Orange County Chapter of the Sierra Club. Two years after I started into mountaineering I was the Leader of a BMTC training group. In that capacity I was responsible for the Training and safety of 20 students who wanted to learn basic about mountaineering. I remained in this role for the next eight years and spent a large part of my ‘spare’ time in the California Sierra Mountains ‘peak-bagging’. No one in our family showed any interest in mountaineering but Patty did participate in the social life that was part of Sierra Club mountaineering activities. My mountaineering trips were mainly of the weekend variety except for some week-long trans-Sierra treks with my mountaineering friends. Then I got the itch to do something grander and I determined that climbing Alaska’s Mt.Denali would be a good way to scratch this itch. I did not then fully understand the substantial commitment of time and money that climbing Denali entailed but I was aware that I was woefully ignorant about ice and generally safe on glaciers. I, and my friend and mountaineering partner, Hank Worzbok, signed up for a one week course in glacier travel with the Mt. Rainier Mountaineering School. Hank was not much interested in serious climbing but ascending Mt. Rainer interested him. My wife Patty had shown interest in my backcountry activities. Activities such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hiking the hill country, and partying with my mountaineering friends. Patty and I became accustomed to doing things together that were not extreme but somewhat unusual for a middle age couple. We cross-country skied near Mammoth, spent a cold Thanksgiving weekend snowshoeing at a snowed-in summer fishing Lodge in the Sierras mountains, backpacked with the bears in Canada, and rode a snowcat to explore the Columbia icefields in Canada. We hiked and partied with our friends on Mt. Rainer and fell under the spell of the wildflowers that decorated the alpine meadows. We spent a July Fourth holiday weekend in Independence, California, feasting on Pit Barbecued beef rib, watching the small town parade (it was so short it looped through town twice). Patty and I had some really great times together. In those same years Patty and I went thru some tough times as the parents of three teenage sons. The societal ills that our nation suffered in those years affected our son’s lives in full measure. Patty and I experienced our share of problems as parents; specifically, the drug and alcohol addiction problems of our three sons. I will perhaps write of our experiences during those very challenging times. Suffice to say now that all of my three sons are alive, drug and alcohol free, and in reasonably good health.