In 2001, I decided to use my energy to start fundraising for cancer research and to that end, found The Breast Cancer Fund which aims to prevent breast cancer altogether by raising awareness and eradicating exposure to chemicals and radiation in our everyday environments that link to the disease. The first event I ever participated in was The Breast Cancer Fund’s Bike Against the Odds, raising $1500 in 2001, then I came back to accomplish their Peak Hike for Prevention three times: in 2002 ($1300 raised), 2009 ($1100 raised), and then again this year, 2014.
This past Saturday, I drove on out to Mount Tamalpais and completed the 7 mile Peak Hike route (if I had the time, I definitely would have completed the 10.5 mile route but had to take my daughter to cheer practice that afternoon so 7 miles it was!). Originally, I signed up with a friend, calling our team Twin Peaks, so we could fund raise and hike together, however, she was unable to do the hike at the last minute so I headed out all by myself! 7 hilly miles of peace and quiet, left to my own thoughts, surrounded by the beautiful wooded expanse that is Mount Tam.
Started out and decided to power walk and run as much as possible as this is truly my last “training” before the Nike half marathon this weekend. There were a lot of people in front of me and even though the trails were single-track, I would sweetly say, “On your left please!” and every one was so kind and friendly, they had no problem letting me pass. I hiked, I ran, and I loved every minute of it!
Now I admit it may be “kharmically” poor to count all the people one passes along the way during a hike for cancer, but I counted anyway. 37. I passed 37 people. But, again, I was running here and there, mostly hiking as Mount Tam isn’t called a Mount for no reason! Within the 7 mile route, the first 4 miles are a complete and total ascent with not one downhill break! I believe the climb for even just the 7 mile route totals about 2,500 feet in elevation! WOO!
As I was thinking to myself, “Wow this sure is a great workout! I don’t recall this being quite as challenging 5 years ago!” I started noticing many different markers pointing out the infamous Dipsea Trail. If you’re a runner and you live in the Bay Area, then you KNOW about the Dipsea race. Known for its difficulty, biased lottery for registration (they encourage you to “bribe” your way in!), and age based head starts (no other race in the world can a 8 year old and a 72 year old WIN!), it is the penultimate race to complete. Over the years, I’ve thought about trying to get in but always felt too intimidated… but seeing the countless Dipsea reminders along my hike, I considered my year of injuries and wondered if maybe my comeback could include Dipsea… hmmmm…
As I ran/hiked through the trees and fog, I thought about why I do this, why I continue to fund raise for cancer and complete these events: because I can. Fund raising isn’t easy and if I could, I would raise funds and/or donate to all the worthy causes out there. I’ve chosen cancer because of how prevalent it is and how relentless I feel in the face of too many suffering loved ones. One person can make a difference, I know I can make a difference, and when my days here are finally over I can look back and say, ” I helped. In the meager way I could, I helped.”
Somehow I took 114 photos along the way. WOW! It’s only 7 miles, I guess I just held on to that camera and never let go! The natural beauty truly inspired me and once the course started to get to the very top of the mountain, the fog cleared and blue skies started to shine through. Freaking gorgeous up there, seriously gorgeous! This world is TRULY an amazing place!!!
Once I got to the top of the mountain, The Breast Cancer fund had provided a rest stop complete with bananas, orange slices, Luna bars and cold water to enjoy so I helped myself to a few items, munched, and took a few moments to appreciate that fog layer before beginning my descent.
Then on down the trail pitched and that fog layer was just breathtaking, wafting in, blurring the trees so I snapped and snapped and snapped…
Upon descent, the trail turned back into single track and even though the scenery and my camera were very distracting, I was trying to focus on not touching any of the evil, poisonous plants along the way, realizing that this is exactly the reason why hikers wear long pants. Leaves of 3, stay the heck away from me!
On down, down, down, plunging back into the fog layer and once I saw the very familiar sight of the switchbacks, I knew my hike was coming to an end.
Happily trotting down the trail, swinging my body around the tight turns, I was so happy and felt great… until… “AHHHHH!!! OUCH!!! WHAT WAS THAT?!?!?!?” Looked down and noticed a bright yellow wasp clinging to the sleeve of my neon pink half-zip. I immediately freaked out, ripped the shirt off from around my waist and flung it down the trail as hard as I could. Lifted my shorts and noticed a bright red mark on my upper thigh where the pain was, with the skin starting to raise all around- bulls-eye, he got me.
Kept heading on down, cussing from the pain of the sting, and trying to lift my shorts from the wound. I only took one more photo after that as IT REALLY, REALLY HURT and I was upset. Got to the end of the trail and with my face all askew, the volunteer stopped her cow belling and asked me what was wrong. Off to the medical tent I went to get treated and even though it hurt like crazy, I had to get back home as soon as possible, so I grabbed some food and headed out.
This year, however, given all of my poor luck with injuries and the car accident and such, I was mentally and physically unable to put as much effort into fundraising as I normally would and ended up only raising $256 for the cause. While I met my $250 minimum, I am still disappointed that I didn’t break $1000 as I have done in all the years prior (not just with The Breast Cancer Fund, but with Team in Training as well). You get out of fund raising just what you put into it and next year, for 2015, Team Twin Peaks will rise again!
That being said, there is still time to donate! Anyone who reads this post and donates $20 or more to the cause by the end of this month, I will send you one of my framed scenery photos from the hike in thanks so you can have a piece of the amazing Mount Tam too. Better yet, consider joining me next year for the 20th anniversary Peak Hike! See you there???