Sunday, October 2, 2011

Joined the Century Club, finally

After 27 years of living in Bend, I finally managed this weekend to log 100 miles up and down Pilot Butte, the cinder cone that rises up nearly 500 feet in the center of town.

And, the funny thing is, it never got easier making the one-mile trek up to the top, either on the dirt trail or along the roadside.

After huffing and puffing my way up, though, the view from the summit always took the rest of my breath away. With the Cascade Range to the West and the Ochocos to the northeast, this panoramic view of Central Oregon is always worth the work to get there.

On my best days, I could make the ascent in 16 minutes. On those days, I was aided by listening to my daughter's older model iPod Nano, which was filled with tunes I loaded. Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," sure has a beat to hike to. So does Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower." As does "The Duke of Earl," by Gene Chandler.

To be honest, I've hiked the butte a number of times while living here. I just never tracked my treks. The state park system, though, has a Century Club, for those who've logged 50 trips up and 50 trips down. This summer, at age 56, I decided to try and join the club. My wife walked with me about a dozen times, but she really preferred yoga.

I was feeling good about my progress last week, when, after about three months of dusty trudging up the extinct volcano, I had only seven more trips to make.

But, last weekend when we went to hike the butte, they were holding a race to the top of it. This race was primarily for runners, which I am not. They had different categories, including one for the senior set. We found out that one of those older guys was nearing his 500th mile up and down the butte. And, he's been at it for only two and a half years after moving here from Florida. Oh, he's also surviving cancer. Plus, he is 93 years old.

I realized, once again, that whatever milestone you reach in life, prepare to be humbled.

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