Well, the stars all aligned and after 11 years of planning, it all came together on February 25, 2005!
Unlike most of my other high pointing trips, this one was strictly first class to celebrate a half century of life and the completion of a long time goal. First to the north shore of Oahu and the luxury of the Turtle Bay resort to start our acclimatization process and work on the tan! After a week of fine food, sight seeing, and ultra light flying, my wife of 28 years Leesa, my daughter Holly, and my son Spencer and I headed to Kona and the Disney World like, Hilton Waikoloa Village. There my brother Dan, who helped get me interested in high pointing and has done many of the more challenging ones with me, met up with us on the evening of the 24th. Dan lives in West Chester, PA and could only be away a limited time so he spent two days traveling and two days in Hawaii.
After overloading on caffeine and carbohydrates to build up our energy reserves for the arduous summit attempt, we headed for saddle road and my 50th state highpoint, on the 50th state, on my 50th birthday. As we pulled out of the hotel we had a terrific view of our snow topped destination. The perilous trail is well described by others so I won’t try to out do their excellent prose. There was a nice scattering of snow, it was clear but windy, and the temp. was 43F. At 11:17a I walked hand in hand with some of the most special people in my life to the summit of Mauna Kea and completed a journey that began in earnest with my wife and young family on Clingman’s Dome in April of 1994.
My wife, children, and brother are all in their mid twenties in their highpoint quest. My daughter Amber and her husband Chad, who have done numerous HPs with me, couldn’t join us as they are expecting their first child very soon but are also avid Highpointers. Chad recently climbed Granite and Gannett with my brother and me and the three of us took part in scattering Jack Longacre’s ashes on his 50th highpoint last summer.
I briefly considered hiking to my 50th highpoint from 50 miles away but every time I thought back to all the white-outs, rain storms, blistering heat, freezing cold, and remembered the total dejection of retreating on Denali after spending six tent-bound days at 17,200’ in a blizzard in 2002, I thought better of it. No, no toil, sweat or blisters in Hawaii. After spending an hour or so on the summit we headed back to all the comforts that the Hilton could heap upon us and a wonderful ocean side dinner to celebrate the great experience of highpoint and of living 50 eventful years.
We spent another week celebrating, exploring the big island, becoming certified in open water SCUBA diving, and had a great adventure in the active lava fields at night – something you don’t want to miss if you’re ever there.
High pointing has taken my family and me places we would never have gone otherwise and provided us with endless tales of adventure. The club and all the great volunteers that make it function are real gems. Thank you all!