I started swimming with a Masters swim team in the summer before I turned 50.
Some parents at the swim club where we belonged hired a coach who held three morning practices a week. After that summer I followed the coach to the indoor team she was coaching and I have been swimming year round ever since.
Together my teammates and I have swum up the Hudson River and across the Chesapeake Bay and the mouth of the Potomac and have trained together for Iron Man triathlons and marathons.
This weekend I hosted five of my teammates in Lake Placid where we competed in the annual race along the submerged cable that marks the Iron Man course. They each did fantastic, winning their respective age groups and being awarded the loaf of bread that is traditionally given as the award for first place.
The next day, they agreed to join me on a hike to Mount Colvin and Blake Peak, to bring my total to 38 high peaks summited of the 46 that I am trying to climb by next August 1st.
The day was perfect and we were greeted with a rainbow as we started the hike. The trails were still muddy from the recent rain but the views at Colvin were spectacular and we watched Marcy emerge as the morning clouds lifted away. The hike out and back to Blake was hard because there were several rock faces that needed to be scrambled and our boots and shoes were slippery from the mud. We were pretty tired when we returned to Colvin to finish the food we had brought with us and to even out the water we were carrying.
I suggested that we detour on our way down to visit the Fish Hawk and Indian Head cliffs that overlook the Lower Ausable Lake. When asked how much further it would add to the trip I replied, “just a couple hundred yards more.” The side trip to the cliffs was closer to a mile and included a steep climb that was made even harder by the fact that when we reached it we were already exhausted from ten hours of hiking.
My companions took it in stride and we rested while enjoying the spectacular view of the lake and valley from atop the cliffs before hiking down to Lake Road and back to the car.
Later, while eating pizza for dinner, the conversation turned to my estimation skills. While I had been nearly exact on all of my mileage and time estimates throughout the day, I had missed the estimate to the cliffs by nearly a mile. They joked about it and I am sure I will be teased about this miscalculation for years to come.
It has been nearly seven years since I started swimming and over this time coaches and teammates have come and gone. They have moved on to new jobs and new cities and have been replaced by the new friends with whom I train today. Eventually, the friends I hiked with yesterday will also move away as they build their own families and careers.
And like the swimmers who came before them, I will miss them and remind them as they leave that in life, just as in hiking, something great always awaits us down the trail, just a couple hundred yards more.