Monday, June 25, 2007

Passing on Passion

Last weekend I took my youngest brother Dillon up Flattop.

When I returned from Adak he declared
"Hey Kim, we should go hiking sometime." I agreed, but was suspicious. I love to do things with my brothers, and usually try and take them to do things that I love, to share my passions.

This is such an amazing place and so many people that here don't appreciate it because they fail to take advantage of its splendor and beauty. I've always tried to make sure my brothers are exposed to everything Alaska has to offer.

They are Alaskans...and love doing things outdoors. However, in the past they have been anything but enthusiastic about activities that include excessive amounts of walking in the woods or uphills.

When Dillon made this request I assumed that he was simply bored out of his mind and looking for ANYTHING that might get me to agree to relieve some of his boredom.

He shocked me. Flattop is a fast hike, and the most popular in Anchorage. But that doesn't mean it is an easy hike It is steep at times, especially the top. None of that seemed to stop Dillon. On our way up the very crowded mountain I saw something blossom in my baby brother.

No longer was he the tired and whiny little kid he was the last time I took him for a hike. He was exuberant and enthusiastic! He was practically running up the mountain side. And he was kicking my ass in the process (something that is happening more and more, especially now that he has 10 inches on me.)

The look on his face as he stared down at me from the summit as I scrambled over the remaining 10 feet of scree filled me with pride and joy. Albeit it a short hike, but he had made it to the top of his first mountain powered by his own two legs. He knew it, he was proud of it, and the thrill of being on a mountain top was pouring out of him. And my pride was pouring over him.

Now, I know part of that is self pride. As I was thrilling with him, and remembering the way I felt the first time I made it to the top of a mountain (also Flattop) I was also proud of myself for being such a cool big sister. More than that though, I was just so excited to see the passion I feel for Alaska and our mountains enveloping my brother. Another convert!

That means someone else to play with. But it also means someone else who will cherish the Chugach Range...and hopefully mountains in general.

Tonight, I got another, bigger taste of that same feeling. My goal for the evening was to hit the second mountain on my summer list: Indianhouse Mountain from Falls Creek. After Flattop Dillon requested to be invited on all of my hikes so I was expecting him to come along. However, just as we were getting ready to leave my brother Brandon requested to come as well.

I was shocked, but pleased. And I should have been!

His enthusiasm, their enthusiasm, as we made our way up the steep trail was fantastic. Yes, they got tired a lot (but so do I!) but they never complained. Instead there was a constant marveling at the tumbling creek which was our near constant companion as we made our way higher and higher into the valley. As we began to pop out above tree line they would turn around and soak in the view proffered of Turnagain Arm through the valley opening.

Soon the conversation turned to how amazing Alaska is...and how people don't like it here because they fail to get out to places like that. To hear the words coming our of their mouths made me so happy.

When it was time to turn around and head back down the mountain neither of them wanted to. The conversation immediately turned to when they could next make it back to that spot. To bringing friends and tents, and staying up there to soak up the mountain atmosphere for as long as possible.

There are few occasions when I feel more alive, more satisfied or more passionate than when I am sitting on top of a mountain. I can't even begin to explain how excited I am that my youngest brothers now realize the beauty and the possibility too.

(re-posted from June 20, 2007)

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