I could feel Luc’s anxiety begin to rise as we neared the top of the rock. As we arrived on the “false summit” we turned around and took in the most spectacular view I have ever seen.
In my mind I thought… well the worst of this is over, and this is the easiest peak to summit, so it will be no big deal I am sure.
And then it was a big deal.
While we are athletes, we aren’t real skilled at hiking, and we are certainly not skilled at hiking the 46 Peaks in the Adirondacks. In our 20 year tenure visiting this town this was our first peak.
Ironman Lake Placid has always consumed our time up here in some way shape or form. I have either been racing it (too many times) or we coach it. This week is filled with athlete meetings, getting folks ready, and getting together with the people we see here annually.
Thanks to the pandemic, there would be none of that this season. For the first time since it’s conception Ironman Lake Placid was cancelled. Knowing we needed a getaway we kept our reservations. I will be the first to tell you that we didn’t even know what we needed until we got it. A few days away with just us. Not working an Ironman. Not racing an Ironman. Just doing the things we enjoy.
And to hike our first peak!
As with most who come here we started with Cascade. As directed we arrived at 6am and found just a few cars at the trailhead. As we began our ascent we came across a father with three kids and backpacks filled with bubbles and party supplies. It was one of the kid’s birthdays and he wanted to celebrate his day on the top of Porter (adjacent to Cascade). Not only did this Dad agree, he carried a birthday cake for the party at the top.
About an hour into our trek we came across some folks descending. Descending???? They said they started at 1, because they wanted to see the sunrise. 1 am? Had they ever heard of bears or seen the Blair Witch Project? Holy bananas! Another group we came accross began at 3. I felt late!
They say Cascade is the easiest peak to hike, but that it’s 2 + miles straight up. It was pure rock gardens.
But it’s true, the hike wasn’t terribly difficult. Just rocky.
The beautiful thing about being fit is that we easily took on a challenge like this.
That is…. until we got close to the top.
Luc has done an amazing job at working through some anxiety he suffers from related to heights. As we neared the top I could feel it beginning to build. Then we saw what we had to climb to get to the summit.
For triathletes pretending to be hikers, this was a big deal!!!!
I gave Luc every out possible. When someone experiences a panic attack, or anxiety attack, it’s not a choice. A sudden drop in serotonin is what causes it, and it’s not something you can measure like you can measure blood glucose. And it’s not something you can meditate your way out of in most cases.
We don’t ask diabetics to meditate or calm their way out of hypo or hyperglycemia, why do we ask that of people who experience anxiety (or depression, or several other issues for that matter).
I was worried. Then all of a sudden, Luc took a deep breath and said “I am going to climb this”. Part of me was proud, and the other part said “Oh shit, that means I have to also” because truth be told….. I was scared!
Every experienced 46er just rolled their eyes at me. I don’t care!!!!
Up he went. With a vengeance. You can not always muscle your way through drops in neurotransmitters but somehow, Luc freaking did. I had to haul some ass to keep up, as Curt was leading the way and Luc was a close second. Soon, Luc was leading the way and I was the one who was trying to muster the courage. I had never been so high!
A few minutes later, there we were.
The summit was incredible. I never imagined what it might be like. I never realized just how high we were and the beautiful day we were fortunate to have. I felt like we could see the whole world.
As we sat there for a bit and took in the view, it felt like the whole world stood still. People were so kind, so friendly. It was as if this whole mess of a pandemic didn’t exist up here. I wanted to stay forever.
We got down those rocks on our butts, but we got down. The descent played to my strength I guess, I was able to bounce rock to rock quite handidly!
Not too far on the way down we came accross that Dad carrying the birthday cake. They were almost there, AND the cake was intact! Hell, I would have either eaten it or dropped it LONG before that point!
And the kids were all smiles. I wonder how their party was. I can only imagine the pictures and more important, the memories. What a way to spend a birthday.
I think the whole trip took us just over 3 1/2 hours. The guys lost steam as we got towards the bottom (not me though).
Man that was fun. It was literally off the beaten path for us, and a huge accomplishment for Luc.
Luc’s greatest gift in this world is his perseverance. Nothing has come easy to him. He worked four times as hard for his Regents Diploma. And his Varsity Letter. And in his classes this year. He applied for a construction trade program three times and was waitlisted THREE times (due to the number of applicants). But guess what happened the fourth time he applied?
He got in.
Anson Dorrance, the soccer coach for UNC, the US National Team and the man who recruited Mia Hamm, once said that he never selected the top athlete in high school for his college team. He always looked for number 3,4,5. The athletes who weren’t the star. Why? Because those athletes knew how to lose, knew how to stand in a shadow, and knew how to handle it. He felt those were the athletes who would shine their brightest when needed and at the same time, could handle not being the star ( read his book Vision of a Champion).
That’s Luc. He’s not your star, until he works his ass off to become one. I have never met a human being with as much fortitude as he has. He doesn’t get it from us. We are tough, we are gritty, but this guy takes it to the next level. He helps me dig deeper. He helps me try harder.
He’s by far our biggest inspiration.
Hiking that peak was more than just getting to the top of our first one (Will we do all 46? Who knows). It was what we needed on the day we needed it. I can’t even articulate it properly, but know it was one of the best experiences ever.
You will have to go do it for yourself, and see what it has in store for you.