Saturday, April 3, 2010

Judy at 50: You're Only Getting Better

Judy is celebrating her 50th birthday. In keeping with the one of the themes of this blog, I would like to recount some of the fun outdoor experiences we have had together. One of my favorite pictures was taken at Trail Camp, over 12,000 feet, near the base of Mt. Whitney in the Sierras. 
It was a three day backpacking trip with Andrew and two of his friends.
What a thrill to share the mountains I love with the person I love. I'll never forget what she said, with tears in her eyes, as we sat in a beautiful meadow next to a snow-fed stream: "Bob, you never told me it was this beautiful." That caused me to see the area with new eyes and greater appreciation and is one of my favorite experiences in the outdoors. It was also a special treat to stand with her on the summit of the tallest mountain in the contiguous U.S., particularly because she was so excited to be there.
I would say that Mount Whitney probably has to be the crowning achievement of our outdoors experiences together. We are all smiles in the parking lot at Whitney Portal.
But this was not a one hit wonder. She has done other fourteeners, both before and since. With our entire family, we climbed White Mountain, a 14,000+ foot mountain in the White Mountains across the Owens Valley from the Sierras.
Judy resting at the summit.
This trip also included some exploration in the nearby Bristlecone Pine Forest, home of the Methusalah tree, one of the oldest trees in the world (4,841 years).
And just last year, the day before our 30th anniversary, we climbed Mt. Elbert, the second tallest mountain in the contiguous U.S. (and the tallest mountain in Colorado).
I wasn't doing well physically that day, dealing with some altitude sickness, but it was still wonderful to spend some time in beautiful Colorado and to see how excited Judy was to be there. The aspens were changing color and the air was crisp and cool.
She fell in love with Colorado as I have.
You get a whole different view of the world in the high country.
Judy has been to the top of Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in Hawaii at 12,796 feet. She didn't enjoy that one so much. She had altitude sickness and it was windy and very cold.

She got close to the summit of Mount Humphreys, the tallest mountain in Arizona. But it started to thunder and lightening and she took Andrew and Sam to a lower elevation. And she has climbed to the summit of many of our local mountains including Mount Baldy, Mount Baden-Powell, Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Bernardino, at least twice.
We need to get her to the top of Mount San Gorgonio and she'll have done the major peaks in Southern California. Another significant mountain she has climbed twice is 11,749 foot Mount Timpanogas outside of Provo, Utah. It is one of our very favorite hikes. Below, with her brother Dave in the summit hut.
And investigating some of the beautiful wildflowers along the way.
Last year we visited Peru and Machu Picchu.
Judy made it to the summit of Huayna Picchu, the tall mountain in the background of the ruins below.
Just recently she went on a desert adventure with me to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. She did put a condition on the trip - we had to stay in a hotel, no camping. It was worth complying with the condition to have her companionship. She humored me and all my plant photographs, getting into the act herself. She even capped off the experience when she discovered a large western diamondback rattlesnake along the trail we were hiking.
Now that the kids have left the nest, I am looking forward to more adventures with my sweetheart. Happy birthday Sweetie. I love you!


  1. Ahh...
    Lots of good memories here. Thanks for taking me along. I think I'm picking up steam, don't you?

  2. You guys are such awesome parents.

  3. I LOVE this post! How fun to see a compilation of so many outdoor adventures. Mom, you rock. :) DEFINITELY picking up steam.

  4. loved it, thanks dad

  5. This was a wonderful post--a tribute not only to Judy but to your adventures together. Terrific!

    Elizabeth E.