Social Climber: Challengers follow the path less travelled

IMG_4399At ING DIRECT we pride ourselves on being challengers. So when five colleagues joined me on Sunday morning at Thornton Bales Conservation Area for #KiliHikeTO, no one was shocked when we found ourselves carving our own trail less than ten minutes into the hike.

The sign on the fence in front of us said: “THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY. If you must trespass, please treat with respect & be sure to tell your kids why you are breaking the law.”

We elected not to break any laws – or anger the locals – so we veered to the left and set out on our own course.

For the 16th consecutive week, I was up and on the trails for a Sunday morning hike. Hiking to train for the #Climb4Cord has become a bit mundane; however, the wonderful people who join me always help bring a little excitement and unique flare each week. On this Sunday, I was surrounded by folks who enjoy following the road less travelled.

16 - Road Less Travelled

Once the trailblazing began in earnest, we ran up untouched hills for the sake of it. We climbed trees because they were there. We jumped on logs because they had fallen in our path. As Snoop Dogg recently sang, we were “living young and wild and free.”

Eventually, we stumbled back onto the marked path. We encountered a lovely woman who was planting red flags into a wood post. She guided us towards the proper route. Turns out, there was a massive area to walk, despite early reconnaissance (a.k.a. Tammy) telling us that “The 99 Steps” was a short hike with little distance to cover and would only take us 10-15 minutes tops to complete.

IMG_4485As we marched along the dirt trails, we would pass other hikers who would stop and ask us what team we were on. All six of us brought along our #OrangeScarf and we were wearing it proudly around our necks on the hike.

Teamwork was actually one of the key themes of our hike. The defining moment for me was at the conclusion of the hike. We all stared up the 99 steps to freedom and one after another we attacked them with vigor.

Leaping and bounding we pushed our way to the top to finish on a high – except for one member of our team. He/She needed additional encouragement and that’s what the rest of the team delivered. We cheered until the last of our group was at the top and we started to high-five and hug each other.

What a way to finish.


Returning to #KiliHikeTO for the second time are Kate and Andre. You can read the back story from our St. Paddy’s day hike on how I came to know both of them. Bottom line, they have become work family to me.

Tammy, who I mentioned above, provides great comic relief on a regular basis. Once in a while, she opens up to the world on Twitter, but her appearances are far too rare in my opinion. The world could use a lot more Tammy.

Steve also joined our team this past Sunday. If you ever need to make a large purchase – or even a small one – Steve is your guy. No one researches products like he does. He’ll tell you more about a product and where to get it for the best price than 99 per cent of the people working for a given company. He’s also a talented video editor.

Chris is the final member of our team. He’s the reason why I’m not losing any weight as I prepare to climb the mountain. Why, you ask? He introduced me to craft beer back in December, and I’ve become a devout follower ever since. Chris, you see, is a mini-celebrity in the local craft brew scene and has been like a wise old owl guiding me on this journey of hoppy goodness.

IMG_4440Unfortunately, it has become a minor obsession for me and I have bottles stashed in every cupboard. I’m curious by nature and I like to try as many different types as possible. I just wish I had waited until after August to start this new hobby.

I’ve added an additional component to my weekly training regimen. Currently, I’m calling it ‘Hills Friday’, but some people beg to differ. Erin, who joined me for the inaugural hill running session this past week, referred to it as ‘Fucking Hills Friday’ after our seventh or eighth round up the massive hill near the Don Valley Brickworks.

As I mentioned in a past blog post, I’m trying to improve my conditioning and this is one of the ways that I hope to achieve that.

A few loose odds and ends to wrap up this post.

I put in a new order for pants this week. I was going to wear light hiking pants with long underwear on summit day, but after checking out recent forecasts, I decided that I need to dress warmer. After consulting Mel from Tusker Trail, I settled on a pair of Mountain Hardwear pants that will keep me both warm and dry. They are similar to ski pants, but not quite as bulky. This should work well with the parkas that Canadian Blood Services is providing for our expedition.

I have seen a bump in funds raised this past week and I am pushing closer to $16,000 raised. As a result, I have increased my goal to $20,000.

When I started out, I thought I was going to need a lot of family support just to reach $10,000. But I have been pleasantly surprised by the generosity of friends and strangers who have helped me shatter this goal. I’m confident that with 74 days until we depart to Tanzania I should reach this goal. If you would like to contribute, you can donate here.

This week I’ll be running hills again on Friday night and I’m back in the gym with Marshall on Saturday afternoon. This Sunday, a group of us are heading up to Blue Mountain to hike. It will be a full day adventure, but it will also be nice to escape from the GTA for the day.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate your support.

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:

About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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