I'm having so much fun outdoor activities I've never been capable of that I'm excited about one of my next goals, climbing a very special mountain.
As I recovered from my heart transplant attached to oxygen, IVs and several chest tubes draining fluid, I was encouraged by my medical team to get up out of my hospital bed and walk a short distance.
Photo: Standing up the first time after my heart transplant
I was in so much pain and discomfort it would have been easier for me to stay in my hospital bed but my mind and spirit were strong, alive, and anxious to take on another challenge.
Together with my wife Lynnette, father Duane, sister n’ law Anna, and a wonderful nurse, they helped me rise up out of my comfort zone and take the first couple of steps slowly out of my room.
Feeling alive we walked down a hallway followed by another hallway that led to a window overlooking the south end of the Salt Lake Valley.
In the distance, to my left, was a Mount Olympus, one of the highest peaks along the Wasatch. This is a nostalgic mountain for me because it overshadowed my childhood home in the early morning hours as the sun rose from the east. The pioneers who settled Utah named the mountain after the highest peak in Greece.
My entire life I wanted to hike this beast of a hill but I didn’t have the heart do it (no pun intended). My younger brother Brian climbed it with ease. As adults he took our youngest sibling Craig up the north face using robes and the usual climbing gear.
Photo: Looking at Mount Olympus from Primary Children's Medical Center several days after my heart transplant.
As I stood from hospital gazing out the window at Mount Olympus I remembered all that transpire the past year with Brian’s untimely death and my new future. I made a commitment there and then that once recovered I would prepare myself to climb Mount Olympus in honor of my brother.
This is no easy task for a heart transplant recipient or anyone who is not in shape to hike long distances. Most climbers reach the summit following a steep trail that stretches approximately 3.1 miles. It’s like walking upstairs for several miles from approximately 5000 ft in elevation to the thin air of 9000 ft.
When I’ve asked people about the hike some have said, “Oh, it’s easy. Me and my college buddies where up to the top and back down in less than 3 hours” While others comment, “It’s tough, rough, and miserable. I remember it being a 9 hour hike up and down.” There certainly are a lot of ways to look at life.
Photo: Mount Olympus, Wasatch Mountains, Utah
I’ve been preparing by climbing other canyons and staying active playing basketball, walking, and fly-fishing.
On June 9, 2010 I will climb Mount Olympus on the 1 year anniversary of my brother's untimely death. Brian left a wonderful legacy not only in the scientific community with his various publications, but he left behind two beautiful children and a kind wife who is strong through adversity. I want to honor his life and love for God’s creations. He would have done the same for me.
I may not reach the peak, but in my efforts I’ll know in my heart and mind that I’m doing something I have never done before and I’ll know my brother will be smiling from the other side saying, “Well done.”