It is one of those days. One of those days when I just don’t have my normal spring in my step. I planned an ambitious hike up Pawnee Pass as part of my wilderness patrol for the Forest Service. I so wanted to have one of those good days, when hiking is effortless, and the miles just pass underneath my feet. But no, it is a low energy day, and if I am going to make the pass, I must resort to the Tishma method.
Working as a volunteer coordinator at Rocky Mountain National Park, I became acquainted with the persona of Walter Tishma. I wish I could say I got to know him personally. But I actually got to know who Walter Tishma was posthumously, after he passed away. As one of Rocky’s long-term volunteers, many volunteers knew him well and enthusiastically shared their favorite memories of Walter. Attending his memorial service on behalf of the park enlightened me even more. It made me sure if I had known him, I would have liked him very much.
Walter spend most of his time volunteering at Longs Peak, hiking the Longs Peak Trail and working at the ranger station. Summiting Longs Peak a mind-boggling 113 times, he became intimately acquainted with every inch of the infamous Keyhole Route. Walter hiked well into his 80s. Fellow Rocky volunteers share with me that many had asked how he continued to attain the summit as he got older. He replied that when he couldn’t go as fast, he vowed to just keep moving by going “heel to toe, heel to toe.”
As we all get older, it can be hard to keep putting ourselves out there. We can’t sprint up mountain peaks, or reel off a 13-mile hike in just a few hours. Everything is just a little bit harder. But I don’t want that to stop me from enjoying the beauty of Colorado. I plan to keep hiking the trails until I physically can’t walk anymore.
So when I’m straining up the last mile on a Fourteener (14,000-foot summit), or just having a challenging day energy-wise, I think of Walter. I think of him hiking Longs Peak as an elderly man in his 70s. Going slowly, but still going. And I vow if he could do it, I can too. And I go slowly, but keep moving, putting one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, heel to toe.