“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
– John Muir
I wrote this book because I wanted to “inspire before I expire.” My dog Emme got me started hiking up the “easier” high mountains in the Rockies, but as they got more difficult it became apparent if I was to continue with this new-found passion, I was going to have to solve challenges of my over-65 age, my weight and certainly my level of fitness. As a whole, that seemed overwhelming. But as I have learned during many years of running a complex technology business, I would go after it by breaking the total problem down into smaller pieces and solving each one in its turn.
I couldn’t do anything about my age … or could I? I thought, maybe I could turn the clock back to achieve a weight and fitness level to where I was decades before. The book goes into how, and indeed I was able to go on to summit all 58 of the mountains over 14,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies.
The trigger for doing a book happened just after summiting Wilson Peak in the San Juan range.
It is a highly visible peak from the ski-town of Telluride and tops out at 14,023 feet. Eleven miles roundtrip, 5300 feet of vertical. Class 3-4 scrambling.
But this time the reaction was quite powerful and moving. We had just come off of summit, down only about 100 feet and two climbers in their 30’s were coming up. They were rugged, weathered and had big smiles on their face. We find that a lot – climbers love climbing. When Rick told them my age, one of them nearly fell off the mountain. He was momentarily speechless and perhaps I imagined or actually saw a tear in his eye. When he regained his voice, he said almost exactly this to me:
I was with Rick Peckham, one of my most important climbing buddies. He was (and is) a great companion on these adventures, but one of his habits that would embarrass me was that whenever we ran across other climbers and stopped to chat, he would unfailingly tell them how old I was. He loved to see their reactions.
“Wow and I’ve been worrying about getting to age 60 with nothing left to live for – you are proof you can still do stuff. You have right now just changed my whole outlook on life!” He went on to say something like, I will stay fit, I will eat well, I will do what it takes. I want to be like you. Thank you – you should write a book.
Climbing Led to Writing About It
That was a turning point because it happened right on a mountain, but I have heard variations of that all along after each story I write. After each high-mountain climb I write a blog story with photos, route directions, lore about the mountain and more. It is at www.RickCrandall.net The audience for that blog continued to grow and often, after a posting, I would get emails with similar claims of how the stories were so inspiring.
When I completed the 58th and final fourteener, it wasn’t long after I was signed up with a literary agent, the Doug Grad Agency. He got me a publisher, HCI Books, publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The Dog Who Took Me Up a Mountain, will be out on October 8, 2019 and is already available for preorder.