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Climbing Sugarloaf Mountain

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In September 2012, Judy and I enjoyed a week’s vacation in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada. While there, we visited Sugarloaf Provincial Park, which had a 4-mile hiking trail that went around the base of Sugarloaf Mountain. I was intrigued when I saw a hiking trail that went up the mountain. I knew that climb would be too much for Judy, but I really wanted to try climbing it. If I couldn’t do it I could turn back anytime. I think I saw that ridiculous climb as my last chance to thumb my nose at the osteoarthritis in my knees.


I explained this to Judy and brought her back to the Bed and Breakfast where we were staying. I returned to Sugarloaf Mountain.


The beginning of the hike was okay but it got steeper the higher I went. From time to time I stopped to catch my breath. Sometimes I decided I should turn back… but then I would look at the next 100 feet or so of the trail ahead and think, “I can do that next bit of trail before I turn around.”


This happened a lot.


I’d climb 100 or 150 feet… stop and catch my breath… wrestle with whether to continue… then climb some more.


At one point, the climb was so steep there was a huge cable installed so that climbers could pull their way up. This was a new thing for me. I’m a casual hiker, not a freakin mountain climber!


Crazy as this seemed, I pulled myself up there.


Exhausted, breathless, and dripping with sweat, I eventually made it to the top. There was a stairway that led to an observation deck! I climbed it and took lots of pictures of the incredible view of the town and its surroundings. Then I just stopped and enjoyed the fact that I had made this climb.


I felt so good about myself! This was a story for a magazine! “Middle-aged American Climbs Sugarloaf to the Top!” Canadians would be writing folk songs about this climb if they knew!


Then I heard a sound.


Someone was climbing to the observation deck!




A woman in her mid-30’s appeared. I was so excited to see her! She, too, had single-handedly conquered Sugarloaf Mountain! I resisted the urge to give her a huge hug.


Rick: (grinning from ear to ear) “OH MY GOD! YOU MADE IT! CONGRATULATIONS!!!”


Woman: “I climb this every day. I work at the hospital down there.”


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