IS SIXTY TOO OLD TO CLIMB A MOUNTAIN?

When I was sixty, seven of us decided to climb Blue Mountain in the Adirondacks. I’d done it before and wasn’t too enthusiastic—climbing mountains does not bring me joy— but here was a challenge. Could I still do it? What better to do on that particular day?

Our group assembled at the trailhead: four adults, and three young boys. It was fun watching the kids scoot up the mountain together, soon lost from sight. I tried to remember what it was like to have a body made of air, a mere nothing to carry up the mountain at full speed.

Toward the top, 4,000 feet above sea level, where it becomes a steep climb up sheer rock, I began to feel faint and nauseous. “I’m too old for this,” I muttered to myself. “I’m probably having a heart attack.” Then I came upon my son’s strong, young fiancée sitting on a rock, her head in her hands. “I’m never going to do this again,” she moaned.

“I agree,” I was panting. “For what? What’s the point of all this suffering?” I took off my baseball hat and whooshed away the flies and mosquitoes. My hatband was soaked.

After a rest the two of us finished the climb and sprawled on the flat rocks like squashed bugs.

When we had recovered a bit, we sat up and watched my son and a cousin lounging, drinking water, enjoying the view of the lake below. The young boys were racing up the observation tower. My future daughter-in-law was puzzled. “It must be a mental thing. Or maybe a macho thing. Look at them. They look like they’re having fun.”

Yes, the view was fine, the weather fabulous, but I hadn’t changed my mind. “Maybe. It doesn’t mean that much to me. I’m never doing it again.”

I’ve proven I can climb Blue Mountain. Next time I’ll make some really nice sandwiches for them when they come back down.