19 Oct 2013

Doug’s Journey

Near the summit of Whiteface Mountain there is a tiny section where the Whiteface memorial highway meets the hikers trail. On a perfectly still October morning while I stumbled over rocks and roots making my way up the hikers trail, someone else, 5 miles down the highway was also making their way up the 5th highest peak in New York State. He was not in a car or on a motorcycle or even a bicycle. His legs didn’t work but his arms and spirit did. When I came to the highway/trail junction, all was quiet except for an unfamiliar sound. I peered over the shoulder-high rock wall and what I saw amazed me.  I immediately jumped the wall and yelled, “Good morning!!” A red-coated man in a wheelchair halted his upward progress and looked surprised. His gloved, duck taped hands held the wheels tightly. A red head lamp secured his red hood, and below that, as I bounded toward him, I witnessed a growing smile that lit up the foggy, gray morning. I immediately yelled out, “Have you been coming all the way up the highway!?” He nodded and smiled even wider. Excitedly, I bombarded him with question after question and then asked if I could take his picture. I asked for his phone or camera so he would have a picture of himself. He shyly and humbly said, “I didn’t bring either. I actually didn’t tell anyone I was doing this. Two years ago I only made it halfway. I started at four this morning.” I took a few photos and got his email address and then asked to shake his hand. He looked at his hands and twisted in his seat and said, “I don’t think I can let go of the wheels.” I put my foot behind a wheel and we shook hands and talked until he politely said, “Well, I should keep moving—don’t want to get too cold.” He continued on and I jumped back on the trail. My strides were quicker and longer and my smile matched Doug’s as I realized I just met someone I’d never forget. Doug sent me an email a few days later: “I ended up making it to the castle in four hours and forty five minutes. Today I feel like I was run over by a tank or something. What a perfect day to climb Whiteface, the high peaks looked like islands rising out of a sea of fog.”

photo (4)

Doug's view from Whiteface Mountain

Doug’s view from Whiteface Mountain

6 Responses to Doug’s Journey

  1. What an awesome accomplishment! Grats.

  2. To best Whiteface with a “adaptive mobility vessel” seems only fitting for a guy with increadable resolve and a work ethic an olympian would envy. I guess that’s why they call him “the workin man”. Congratulations Doug!

  3. Bear Claws Chris Lapp January 20, 2014 at 2:36 am

    “You’ve done well Pilgrim!” You wouldn’t happen to know what month of the year it is would you?…March….maybe April….I don’t believe April….” So glad to see you on a mountain again!

    • Hi Bear Claws,
      The month was October, late October if I remember correctly. I agree with you about April. Late October and April can look so much alike. Doug and I are planning a reunion meeting this Spring or fall. He’s training hard right now. He’s amazing. I’ve gotten to know him much better over the last several months. Nothing stops him. He lives life to the fullest.

  4. Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored to death at work
    so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, superb blog!

  5. Sorry, not sure how to fix that problem. I can’t find anything on my end to undo the problem. Maybe this reply will offer you a way to undo it.