A week ago, I was planning to climb Mt. Hood with a Mazamas group (motto: We Climb High. I’m not making that up.). My first climb post graduation from their basic mountaineering course. Since Mt. Hood climbs have an alpine start, which means in the middle of the night, 2:30 am for us, we decided to stay at a little village just down the mountain from our starting point. So we’d get an extra hour of sleep before the climb.

Anxious about the conditions, we’d been hit by a heat wave, we were talking to all the climbers we could that. As a tired-looking guy went into the room next to us, we asked him if he had climbed. “To the top? No, no, is that what you’re going to do?” he asked, a shocked look on his face. He was impressed that we were planning it.

“So what are you doing,” we asked, because he clearly had been doing something active.

“Oh, walking across the country.”

HUH?! Now we were the ones that were shocked. Turns out that Mattias, from Sweden, started walking in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on June 15, 2007. He housesat for a new friend in Brooklyn for a month, and wintered over in Montana. But other than that, he’s been walking. He tries to get in about 25 miles a day, and fools his mind into it, because he thinks in kilometers, and doesn’t do the math to convert.

I found a short piece on him, from when he was walking through Wisconsin.

It’s funny how perspective works. We gave Mattias our contact information, and offered him a place to stay when he reached his ending point in a couple of days (Oregon City — end of the Oregon Trail) but we didn’t hear from him. From the few hours we spent with him, he joined us for dinner that night, I know he’s having a great time and meeting interesting people.

So, while my climb ended up getting canceled because of severe avalanche conditions, I had a great experience.

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