MrSportsBlog scales elusive Table Rock

Posted: 06/02/2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I was eating at Boise’s top burger joint on Friday afternoon when I glanced out the window and saw the foothills glistening.

It immediately reminded me that I still had no clue how to climb up to Table Rock, one of the few true landmarks in the fantastic area known as the Treasure Valley.

I had been to the top of Table Rock last September but that was because I figured out how to drive my car up to it. And I swore I would never do that again after a car was coming up the dirt path as I was coming down and I could see how easy it would be for my vehicle to go tumbling off the cliff.

But that evening stuck with me because as I looked down over the city, I could see an old gentleman walking down the steep terrain. About 10 minutes earlier, that same man had exchanged hellos with me under the famous cross that can be seen 20 miles away once it becomes dark.

If the man was walking down the hill, there must be a way to walk up it.

It was a vision that would creep back into my mind from time to time, particularly if I was somewhere that had a terrific view of the elusive Table Rock.

I had searched for a way up from the road down below earlier last summer and came up empty. I drove through a neighborhood that had a no Table Rock access sign and I hit a dead end and the top of the mountain was tantalizingly close.

So here I was making another attempt to find a hiking path on Friday when I noticed there were a lot of cars turning left on a little street just in front of what is known as the Old Penitentiary. I had driven the road once before in my search and gave up when I hit a dead end.

But I had never turned on to the road that these other cars were taking. This time I did and as the road started to curve, I began bracing for another dead end.

There was a dead end all right – but one with about 100 cars in a parking lot. Then I noticed what I had long been looking for: The hiking trail.

A school bus full of little kids had just arrived – parents of the kids who were arriving to join their children aided my discovery of the road – and they were all getting ready to start the trek up the hill.

I parked my car and excitedly headed toward the trail. I certainly wasn’t prepared – wearing jeans and having just one bottle of water on the hottest day of the year so far in Boise with the temperature between 85 and 90 degrees.

I studied a trail map sign and I realized the round trip was over three miles and the climb was close to 1,000 feet. But there was no chance I wasn’t going to immediately hike up to the summit now that I actually knew there really was a way to climb to Table Rock.

About one-third of the way up, it started to sink in just how long of a hike this was going to be. And the sun was piercing and there was no shade to be found.

Once I got to the halfway point, I realized I could always turn around and it would still equate to a fine day of exercise. But if these energetic kids – they all seemed to be about 6 to 8 years old – could do it, I figured there was no turning back.

And when a graying 60ish woman said hello to me on her way down, I knew I just had to keep climbing and climbing.

About three-fourths of the way up, my ankles and heels were aching. The incline was pretty steep and little kids and their mothers were stopping all over the trail due to the heat. I began looking for motivation.

I thought about former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand and how happy he would feel to walk anywhere, let alone a rocky, steep incline. LeGrand was paralyzed during the 2010 college football season and I’ve seen some social-media comments from him where he would be excited about things like sitting up for 20 seconds.

Eventually, I was about 90 percent up the hill and all I could think about was somehow finishing the climb. I came across a woman in her 30s who was standing alone resting and she expressed out loud some of the things I had been thinking inside.

She didn’t think she could make it the rest of the way to the top. Suddenly, she said, ‘Let’s do it.’ She and I were talking about the heat and wondering whether there might be some shade at the top and we just kept walking and walking up the hill.

We finally made it to the top and she turned to me and gave me a resounding high-five. Then she said, “Thank you. I wouldn’t have made it to the top without you.”

The real truth is she helped me make it more than I helped her. The banter for those few minutes had taken my focus off the unkind sun, the aches in my legs and my taxed breathing.

Then I found shade at the top and I spent 15 minutes in a small cave relaxing, eventually figuring out it would be much, much easier to head down the hill whenever I was re-energized.

As I began the walk down, I thought about Idaho State football coach Mike Kramer telling me last August that he had climbed Mt. Rainier 23 times. I specifically recall him saying, “I have 23 summits on Mt. Rainier.”

Once I was about halfway down the hill, I stopped and looked up at the mammoth cross atop Table Rock. And the words came out slowly but proudly.

“I have my first summit on Table Rock. Nice.”

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