Don J.

Lakewood Family YMCA

"Reach Your Peak," the flyer read. For too many years Don had been an armchair hiker, dreaming of forays into the back country but remaining fenced in by the responsibilities of a career and yard chores at home. But retirement marked the invitation for a new venture.
 
So in the summer of 2012, he accepted the flyer's challenge to brave the ascent of Granite Mountain in the Snoqualmie area (eight miles; 3800 foot elevation gain). "Until that point, my ideal hike was about three miles over relatively low-sloping terrain," he recalls. "That first day out with the group was a killer." At about 2000 feet of elevation, Don could go no further and reluctantly retreated to the car while the rest of the group continued on.
 
While many would have conceded to the embarrassment, Don resolved to try again, spurred on by the encouragement of his fellow hikers. "They're a special breed," he says. "United by a common love of the challenges of the trail, they are welcoming, and they look out for eachother."
 
They cheered loudly for Don when, a year later, he tackled the same hike and broke through to the finish across the snow fields of Pebble Creek. The rest, as they say, is history. Seven hikes later, Don is a regular in the group and a seasoned veteran. "This hiking series has opened up a new life for me," he says. He's already got concrete plans for some hiking adventures in the not so distant future.