Well, I took a little Italian hiatus (at least in my mind) over the past few days. Writing about Italy has been fun – I got to look through our photos each night as I selected them for the post. The photos always bring back good memories. It reminds me of a time when we lived life just a little more freely perhaps. There was no grey cloud in our lives, nothing that made us question the future.
Our November 2005 trip to the Chianti region of Italy was the last trip abroad that Geoffrey and I took before Parkinson’s disease came into our lives. It was a mere eight weeks after we returned from Italy that Geoff noticed the involuntary movement in his index finger on his right hand. While we continue to fill our lives with a lot of joy and laughter, and even some adventure since the diagnosis, including two trips back to Italy, there is no doubt this trip will forever hold a moment in time for Geoffrey and I, a trip that we will never forget.
I think my reflection of Italy was designed to provide a little “mental rest” before taking on my first mountain. Certainly we have not had much in the way of physical rest. Both Geoff and I have been in the gym this week working hard. Geoff played a round of golf today in 94 degree weather – I did yoga and still have an evening walk planned after dinner. (unless I can get lucky enough to be rained out!)
We are certainly not climbing the highest mountain in the US next week. It will not be one that requires the skill of a seasoned climber, although I am sure 5,268 ft. will not be just a walk in the park. However, our climb really symbolizes much more. It is the beginning of a quest, the first step towards achieving our long term goal. It will give Geoff and me a tiny vision of how we need to build our endurance for the next mountain. It will be the first Parker’s Climb! It will be a step in achieving a goal for our commitment to Team Fox and The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Mount katahdin towers a mile above the northern Maine wilderness. Katahdin, meaning “sacred” or “greatest mountain”, stands as a majestic monument to man and nature. The Kathadin area is spectacular, a landform of mountains, meadows, swamps, cascades, sparkling lakes, river valleys, forests, cliffs, boulders, serrated ridges, and deep glacial cirques – a magnificent natural treasure.
More than 100 species of birds and dozens of mammals, including black bear and moose, inhibit these forest. Alpine floors and tundra above the treeline is a testament to the harsh weather of the region. The first recorded ascent up Mt. Katahdin was in 1804, since then, thousands have taken on the highest mountain in Maine.
Today, Mount Katahdin remains in it’s natural state, The trails are rock strewn and rugged; there are landslides, boulder fields, slippery roots and mud which present many more obstacles than most hikers are accustomed to. For this reason the travel times per mile of trail may seem excessive. Hikers are cautioned from under-estimating the very difficult and exhaustive character of the routes on the mountain.
Even in summer, Katahdin weather can get increasingly windy and cool. Wet clouds and rain can actually cause excessive heat loss from the body, and hypothermia. We are five days out and most of our preparations have been done, with the exception of packing. That should be a breeze since there seems to be bits and pieces of our trip in most every room at this point.
Five days and counting – Mt. Kathadin – The Parker’s are coming!!
“The best dreams are the ones that happen with your eyes wide open!”
Geoffrey K Parker, July 19, 2010