I had re-started my watch after last year’s previous million vertical feet. I wasn’t too concerned about going for it again.
Later in the season, I was up in Kelowna mountain biking with my brother, when he asked me “Are you going for another million”? As I looked at my watch, I was aloof, but all of a sudden something in me ignited. I got motivated. I did some quick calculations. Well, I wouldn’t say quickly. I actually had to grab a calculator. I was at 750,000 with only two months to go. I would have to average over 5,000 feet per day for the next two months. If I was this close I might as well keep going, right?
In the past on the bigger mountains I had a bad attitude and when I didn’t feel like it, I would bag it. So I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Yes, it was going to be hard and boring, and motivation would be low in the fall with less daylight and usually less snow. But the snow soon arrived with a vengeance and I was ready to rock.
Along the way you can’t help but ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Where’s my lift pass”? But then you have those moments when you push on whether it’s raining or dark, where you find that flow state and start begging for more. That happens when you push through the pain and pressures in life and live in the moment; a moment you can only achieve through human powered travel. When it’s your tenth lap and the temps cool, the weather clears, and all of a sudden you are skiing knee deep pow when everyone went home, you know you were there for the moment because you were in the cycle.
The streak was still alive! I compared it to Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks game playing streak for some extra motivation. Like they say, it’s not the end result but the journey that counts.
I’ve been given the nickname Andy Gump for my obsession with traveling uphill. But as much as I enjoy the climb, it still really is about the down. It just feels more rewarding when you have to work to get there.
As in life, people will make fun of you for you doing something against the grain; like skinning up a run when they are skiing down. If I was a kid, I probably would have done the same thing. Not every day are the conditions right for backcountry travel due to snow stability.
Sometimes this game even leads me to where there’s no snow and I’m skiing on rocks. That was the case when I was visiting family in the Okanagan, so I had to make the most with what I had. There wasn’t really a dedicated backcountry zone, so I was relegated to doing short laps on Kelowna mountain with a 40 cm base. Now that tested the motivation!
In the end you have to follow your passion and enjoy being outside. I want to be out there every day, so I try to make it happen. This is where I truly feel alive and free.
Hopefully my 4 million feet motivates somebody to get out there and get off the couch, be it by climbing ten feet or riding the bike to the corner store.
Be calm like water, roll with the punches. Sit back, hold on, and enjoy the ride.