That may be an over exaggeration, but at the very least, it made its way out to beautiful British Columbia and morphed into #KiliHikeBC for a weekend.
I grew up in Vancouver and there were many reasons for my trip home to the west coast, but the most important reason related to the #Climb4Cord was the need to purchase new hiking boots.
Anyone who has ever skied with me knows the pain and struggle I have gone through to find boots that fit. I’m blessed – or cursed – with size 12E feet. This makes finding proper footwear a challenge. Living in Canada escalates the problem because size and selection are not as strong compared to the good ole USA.
Acting on the advice of Neal Kushwaha, I was seeking out three potential new hiking boots that meet the criteria for the climb up Kilimanjaro and also come in a wide size that would fit my foot: Asolo Fugitive GTX; Merrell Moab Waterproof; Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX.
The only store I could find that carried all three models in my size and had them in stock was REI (America’s version of Mountain Equipment Co-Op). There is no REI near Toronto, but as luck would have it, there is one in Bellingham, Washington which is just over the border from Vancouver.
I made the trip south to REI on Friday morning with my high school friend Julie. She remained extremely patient while I compared footwear and tried on multiple sizes, multiple times. In the end, I settled for the Asolo Fugitive GTX in an 11.5 wide.
I was also able to pick up a variety of thin socks to test out over the next few weeks as I continue to search for the perfect sock to keep my feet dry and comfortable while trekking.
I didn’t have to wait long to take my new boots for a test drive. On Sunday morning, my mom and I ventured into Pacific Spirit Regional Park, which is situated in the University Endowment Lands on the west side of Vancouver.
The setting is magnificent.
The damp west coast air in the forest feels like honey on a sore throat as it fills your lungs. The uprooted trees along the trail provide character and remind you of the importance of such an old forest in an urban setting. Moss gently coats rocks and trees while dogs and horses navigate around walkers, hikers and cyclists. It is truly an urban paradise.
I must admit that it was nice to be able to pick up the pace and walk without worry of slipping on ice or snow as has been the case in Toronto for much of the past two months. The brisk pace made conversation harder. But it is always nice to catch up with my mom sans the everyday distractions from mobile phones and the like.
The trails were packed with people who were soaking up the sunshine on a perfect spring day with temperatures nearing double digits. My mom seemed to know every second person along the trails. They would stop and say hi and chat for a few minutes before carrying on in their own direction.
As for my boots, they caused some pain for the first hour, but by the time we completed the second loop to conclude our 8.11 km hike, they were feeling much more comfortable after getting broken in.
WHAT CAN CORD BLOOD STEM CELLS CURE?
Throughout our hike and during my entire weekend in Vancouver, my mom kept telling me that I have to let everyone know how the stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used and what diseases it can cure.
- Cord blood stem cell transplants are used for treating over 50 diseases and disorders, such as leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, inherited immune system and metabolic disorders, as well as sickle cell disease.
- Stem cell research and treatment is a growing area of medicine that has the potential to change the treatment of many diseases. Known as ‘Regenerative Medicine’ researchers hope to one day treat a variety of diseases, such as: Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, joint repair, diabetes, asthma and numerous other treatments.
- Some of the diseases treated by stem cell transplants in Canada in 2011 include:
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Hurler Syndrome
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Refractory Anemia
- Severe Aplastic Anemia
- Waldenstrom’s Macrolobulinemia
- Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome
Other important facts about stem cells from umbilical cord blood:
- Cord blood matches need to meet only 4 out of 6 criteria, while bone marrow matches must meet at least 9 out of 10 criteria.
- Because umbilical cord stem cells are less mature than adult stem cells, there’s less chance of rejection, which occurs when the transplanted stem cells recognize the host as “foreign” and attack the healthy cells.
INTO THIN AIR
In 2007, I spent a month in Tanzania as a volunteer, so I have spent less time researching this trip than I normally spend in advance of a new adventure. However, on the advice from my hockey buddy Shultz, I motored through the book Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer on my flights to and from Vancouver.
While Mt. Kilimanjaro is nothing like Mt. Everest, it is still important to understand – in my opinion – the impact that high altitude can have on one’s physical and mental ability. I like to know all the facts and I love to do research before I do anything. The more I know before I go, the better I will feel.
One lesson that the book reinforced is that you have to view the summit as the mid-point and not as the ultimate goal. Too many people who died on Mt. Everest in Krakauer’s book expended all of their energy getting to the summit. Subsequently, they then found themselves in trouble trying to get back down.
Initially, I thought once we reached the summit of Kilimanjaro, we’d hang out on the top and enjoy the view for a few hours. But after talking to a few people who summated Kilimanjaro, I expect we will only spend about 20 minutes on the summit before booting it back down the mountain. This is a very useful piece of knowledge as I train – especially from a mental aspect as I continue to envision myself completing this task.
Speaking of training, I had a kick-ass session with Marshall on Monday despite the jet lag. I pushed out a record 25 reps of 500 lbs. in one set on the leg press. I’m happy that my leg strength is increasing, but this was also encouraging because it happened after four grueling sets of dead lifts.
As the weather continues to improve and spring finally shows its face in Toronto, don’t forget to sign up and join me for a hike. Just because someone is already signed up, don’t let it deter you from joining in, too. The more the merrier on the trails.
A quick reminder that you can also lend your support off the trails by joining me and Chris Grimley for #BeerHikeTO (a pub crawl) coming up on Saturday, April 6th in Toronto. Or you can make a donation to the #Climb4Cord via my personal donation page. I’m closing in on my new goal of $12,000 raised and each and every dollar counts.
Thanks for your continued support simply by reading and sharing my blog posts.
The #Climb4Cord features a group of business leaders who will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2013 with the hopes of raising $750,000 for the campaign For All Canadians, which is dedicated to building Canada’s new national public cord blood bank. Click here to donate to my personal page or for more information on the campaign please visit: http://campaignforcanadians.ca/