Today marks exactly ten years for me. No, not of blogging, but of surviving cancer: Hodgkin's lymphoma, one of many types of blood cancer. The time has flown by since that April day in 2002 when my doctor looked at an X-ray and gave me the news.
I thought that I would reflect a little on some of the things that I've enjoyed in the outdoors over this time. I won't list them all, just some of the highlights of things that I got to do because of really good luck that not everyone with cancer has. I am really grateful to have had that time, while also hoping for more time ahead - I guess we all do that. Well, here are some highlights of those 10 years. I wonder what the next ten will bring?
2003 - about seven or eight months after chemo, I took my first hike: to Rip Rap Hollow in Shenandoah National Park. A snail could have gone faster, but that was OK - I was alive and hiking again. A month later, I hiked up Tumbledown Mountain in Maine to fulfill a promise I had made to myself the previous summer when I felt so ill and weak from chemo. And that fall, my two brothers and I met for a camping trip in Colorado - our first time that just the three of us ever got together.
2004 - I visited the Everglades - a long held dream - and the Big Cypress Preserve in Florida. Talk about being up to your @ss in alligators!
2005 - Not only did I complete my first ever marathon in Alaska (about seven miles of it were through the woods), but I also went on a bear watching day trip and saw an Alaskan brown bear catch a salmon. I also made a trip to Glacier, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone National Parks - which still ranks as one of my best vacations ever. I think this was also the year we swam with manatees in Florida, still one of my life's most amazing experiences - to have this gentle giant swim up to me.
2006 - I did a little hiking in the Adirondacks in New York, as part of a visit to my sister in her home in the Catskills. One of the highlights of the trip was the incredible Museum of the Adirondacks in Blue Mountain Lake, NY.
2007 - I celebrated being a five year cancer survivor in style by hiking up Mt. Washington with my brother Nur 40 years after our dad took us there as boys. Being a Philly kid, it was like nothing I had ever seen. Also along on this trip in 2007 was my friend Dick, who is planning on doing the same three day hike this summer - and he is pushing 90 now. How is that for inspiration to keep moving? I wish I could join you, Dick. This working for a living ain't what it is cracked up to be.
2008 - I hiked in Saguaro National Park, although with weary legs, after the Arizona Marathon. I also spent several days hiking and kayaking with my brother Nur and my sister-in-law Martha in New Hampshire. I also started this blog shortly before that trip to the Granite State!
2010 - After the Seattle Half-Marathon, I spent three days hiking in Mount Ranier National Park. Then in the fall, it was back to Alaska for two weeks, where I went all over the place, including Denali, Kenai Fjords, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks. A quick mental count (always dangerous) tells me that I have visited 11 new national parks in my 10 years.
2010 and 2011 - I finally went backpacking again with two trips to the mountains in Virginia. Both times, I picked the coldest night of the year.
Well, those are some of my best outdoor memories of the last 10 years, years which I feel very grateful to have had. I don't know if the next 10 can match some of these experiences, but time will tell.
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