Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up and you find every excuse in the book to not to exercise? One of my old, mental, standbys is convincing myself that something hurts. Usually it’s something like I slept wrong and my neck feels a little stiff, or perhaps my ankle is a little grouchy. Whatever the minor reason, it gets inflated in my head and before long, I’ve talked myself out of a work-out. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I always feel disappointed that the ‘bad voice‘ won. Thankfully today, I ran into my Trail-Opa who made me think a little deeper about the benefits of getting out there.
Meet Roman. Some of you have met him before, some have not. He is a local Northwest legend. In his prime he scaled many peaks and was an extraordinary mountaineer, both in the US and in Europe. Boeing brought him and his wife to the United States from Germany 30 years ago; they settled in the Snoqualmie Valley and raised children. Now his children are grown, their children are grown and he’s surrounded by great-grandchildren.
He wears his smile like a fine accessory on his face at all times and is never seen with out his German hat. He is (drum roll) 86 years old and hikes 1,200 feet of elevation gain, 3 incredible times a week. He has no hypertension, high blood pressure or heart problems and his balance rivals that of 30 year olds. He claims hiking has kept his aging body working, like a well oiled machine. He goes up the hard way, and goes down the easy way to preserve his knees. He takes his time and enjoys the things he sees along the way including other hikers. Often, in his thick German accent he says “I haf sumthing fer you”, and digs in his pack. Usually he pulls out some new gadget to show off, the latest one- a heart rate monitor so he could improve his hiking skills. He’s sharp as a tack and always asks how things are with me, remembering details we shared on our last visit. When it’s time for me to head up the trail, he takes my face in both hands and says “goodbye my beauty” and kisses my cheek.
He’s my trail Grandpa (Opa) and he’s tough as nails. And...he’s 86. No excuses anymore for me.