|Day After Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Hike (5/31/21)|
If there is one friend of mine that stands out from all others as a continual source of inspiration, it's my friend Greg. Even before I met Greg he was already legendary within athletic community. 1993 was my first year I was exposed to endurance and muti-sport biathlons and triathlons and joined the The Central Ohio Triathlon Team. Many of the club members would swim on Friday nights with the Columbus Parks and Rec which had a master's swim program.
Triathlon club members would often go out for dinner after Friday night swims and that's when I learned from Dave Fisher, another staple in the triathlon community, of this guy who was also part of the triathlon club and who was biking across country from Seattle, WA to Williamsburg, VA. The group he was riding with had a set schedule and a set route. Greg would take a detour from his group adding countless miles to his cross-country expedition just to meet for dinner and see some of his Columbus, Ohio friends. I was invited and that's when I was able to meet Greg for the first time. He ended up completing the 3,400 mile route in only 24 days averaging over 140 miles per day.
Upon meeting Greg I also learned three years earlier he had completed the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 6,1990 so already I had the upmost respect of these accomplishments, but more important he was just the coolest and most down to earth guy you could ever meet and as humble as could be with his accomplishments. He had won a lottery slot into Kona and had never actually run the Ironman distance of 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 miles or never even ran a marathon distance running race before knocking out a blistering fast time of 10 hours, 28 minutes, and 50 seconds.
I would see Greg at social functions throughout the next eight years and somehow we figured out that we both had registered for Pikes Peak Marathon on August 19, 2001. Our training for Pikes Peak couldn't have been any more different. He spent a month traveling thru Canada with Maureen and had ample time to acclimate to the elevation whereas I couldn't afford more than a couple days off of work so my plan was to fly in and fly out for the race. Not only did we both register for the same race but a few short days before the race we both separately climbed Mt. Elbert (14,433) which is highest mountain in Colorado. Greg and Marueen climbed Mt. Elbert a few days before I did which gave them a few more days to rest. Pikes Peak was no ordinary marathon. I had already 10 marathons plus two 3 Ironman's under my belt with my fastest 3:14:08 and slowest 3:41:41. Pikes Peak Marathon starts at 6,295' and the 13.1 mile turn around was at the summit of 14,110' and then we had to return the way we came with the finish line at 6,345'. The air was thin at the top of Pikes Peak and I remember mile 12-13 took me 39 minutes to run. The 13.1 mile route to the top took me nearly 4 hours which was nearly 20 minutes off of my slowest marathon time. I finished the race with a finishing time of 7:26:02. As a comparison Greg ran a blistering fast Pikes Peak Marathon time of 5:45:34 or nearly two hours faster. Honorable mention goes out to Maureen who ran a 6:49:16 which was still 36 minutes faster than my time and I must point out she was 15 years older than me!
|Starting Line Pikes Peak Marathon (8/19/01)|
|Pikes Peak Race Results|
A year later in 2002 I was married, in 2005 moved to Seattle, WA and two years later in 2007 again moved to Los Angeles, CA. Every year since 1993 when I started racing triathlons, I would enter the Ironman Lottery. Well, finally in 2008 the Ironman gods drew my name and October 11, 2008 I had the opportunity to race Kona. I had remembered that Greg was my first friend that also had won the Ironman lottery all the way back in 1990 and I wanted to reach out and let him know I finally competed on the big island as well. November 2008, I forwarded him an email with my Ironman recap. I had started bagging state high points and by 2008 had been to 22 different states. Greg had told me a long time ago when I'm ready to climb Mt. Whitney to let him know. Since I now lived in California the planets were lining up for me to set Mt. Whitney in my sites and plans were beginning for a summer 2009 hike. In my email to Greg with my Ironman results I also let him know that next summer I would climb Mt. Whitney and a week later I heard back from him as "he was IN". Already back in 2008 he even asked, "Are you doing just Mt. Whitney or the whole John Muir Trail?"
|Iron Mountain, CA (2/8/2009)|
Greg's work brought him to Los Angeles, and he contacted me about getting together for hike while he was in town. I had seen a trailhead and not exactly sure where it went so I suggested we give it a try and both Greg & Maureen were up for the challenge, so we got a chance to catch up and start making summer plans for Mt. Whitney.
|Greg and with his already vintage tent ~ Whitney Portal Base Camp (9/3/2009)|
|Whitney Portal 8,374 ft (9/3/2009)|
Finally, Mt. Whitney weekend was here! I had recruited 4 friends to do the hike with me. Four of us would backpack up to 12,000 feet and camp for 1 night, however, Greg thought carrying a full pack was for the birds so as I would learn from future hikes together Greg is a minimalist where his pack (if any) is light as possible, and he goes as fast as possible. For Mount Whiney he had a hip belt with a couple water bottles and a light wind breaker. We would break camp at sunrise on our summit day, which meant Greg had a lot of ground to make up so he woke up in the middle of the night and started hiking in the dark until he caught us on the switchbacks. We later learned he even overslept and got a late start but still caught up with us.
|View of campsite from Mt. Whitney's Switchbacks|
|About where Greg Caught us hiking up to Summit of Mt. Whitney (9/4/2009)|
In mountaineering one thing is good to know if the weather forecast. One reason for early start to the summit is to avoid early afternoon thunderstorms. Almost to the summit and we could see a storm in the distance so we knew we didn't have much time on to spend on the summit before quickly descending to safer terrain.
|Mt. Whitney Summit 14,497 feet (9/4/2009)|
|Mt. Whitney Summit 14,497 feet (9/4/2009)|
|Somehow Greg got a Signal and called Maureen from the summit of Mt Whitney (9/4/2009)|
|Greg Caught in Storm on Mt. Whitney decent (9/4/2009)|
|Breaking camp...Greg's (no backpack) vs. Brian's backpack (9/4/2009)|
Two years later Greg once again returned to Los Angeles and like any good friend calls to let me know he's in town and suggests we go for a hike and some dinner. He wanted to do a short challenging hike so I took him to one of my favorite hikes call Smith Mountain. There is a register at the top of the mountain so Greg signs and also writes, "I was told the Hollywood sign is around here but I can't find it anywhere". We were nowhere close to the Hollywood sign, however, a month later I have lunch with a buddy of mine and learned he climbed Smith Mountain a couple days after Greg and I and saw in the register that some guy was looking for the Hollywood sign. We both busted up laughing when I told him that was my friend from Ohio that wrote in the register. After our hike I think Greg polished off not just one Double Double at in and out but was so hungry he went back for another. Later that night we went to Manhattan Beach for dinner before dropping him off at the LAX.
|Smith Mountain (4/22/2011)|
|Manhattan Beach (4/22/2011)|
I had been working on another 50 state quest to run a marathon in all 50 states. By 2012 I had already finished 38 states and had Montana in my sites for 2013. Greg had been to Glacier National Park before and it's one of his favorite places on earth. It ends up that he was planning a week long white water rafting trip on the snake river followed by a week in Glacier NP with his friend George. George was also running the Missoula Marathon the last day of their trip so he invited me to join them.
|Greg surprise visit to another one of our good friend Karen also from Ohio that moved out west|
|The Snake River (7/3/2013)|
|The Snake River ~ Idaho|
|The River Clan (7/3/13)|
At last, the week on the Snake River ends and I fly into Missoula to rendezvous with Greg and meet his friend George who we will spend the next week together in Glacier NP. We found a brewery and got to sample a couple of Big Sky Brewery's finest!
Over the next six days Greg was our guide and we hiked over 31 miles in various parts of the National Park. He took us to a couple of his favorite places like Going-to-the-Sun Road, Logan Pass, and visiting all the Lodges in the park. Greg and I were caught in a storm on Mt. Whitney in 2008 and now once again at the top of Apgar Peak we saw a storm rolling in and had to run down the mountain to escape rain, hail, and lightning. The hike that Greg wanted to do all week was called "the Highline Trail" even though the first week of July, the trail was still closed because of snow. We learned that they had crews clearing the trail and that it might be open by the end of the week. As luck would have it on our last day the opportunity presented itself. George and I were running a marathon in Missoula a day later and either Greg talked us out of joining him or just our common sense is that we needed a day of rest/recovery, so George and I dropped Greg off at the top of the trailhead and he hiked down.
|1st Day in Glacier National Park (7/7/2013)|
|Glacier National Park ~ Logan Pass (7/9/2013)|
|Greg leading George and I into the Abyss at Logan Pass (7/8/2013)|
|Glacier National Park ~ Apgar Peak (7/8/2013)|
|Greg at the trailhead for the Highline Trail (7/12/2013)|
|Greg in the first mile of the "High"line trail (7/12/2013)|
We had one last night the three of us Greg, George, and I in Missoula and by the time I awoke Greg had got up early and started his long drive back to Ohio. George and I however were running the marathon the following morning so spent the day together going to the marathon expo and tapering before our race. What I didn't know at the time is that George would become my new best friend. In the next four years George would travel with me to Connecticut, Rhode Island, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Maine, Wisconsin, and Alaska for 8 out of my last 12 state marathons.
|Dinner Laguna Beach 2018 |
I didn't see Greg for another 5 years our week long adventure in Glacier, but one thing that I learned about Greg is that he is great at keeping in touch with friends and planned another trip to S. California so we met one night for dinner along the beachside in Laguna Beach.
|San Diego hiking near Potato Chip Rock (3/2/2019) |
Once again Greg returns so S. California, this time in San Diego, and invites me to come down for a hike. It rarely rains in S. California so I have 360 sunny days to hike and the one day Greg is in town of course mother nature brings her worse. It was rainy and cold all day long for our hike up to Potato Chip Rock.
Our California hike was good training for all of us for our next adventure together which we were planning for May. Greg had invited a whole bunch of friends to join him on a hike in the Grand Canyon May 13th. The hike I had done once before in 2003 and hiked all the way down S. Kaibab to the river and then the following day back out of the canyon up Bright Angel Trail. Greg wanted to hike all the way down and back on the same trail on the same day. Once we got a little closer to our big day Greg suggested that two days before our hike to the river and back let's do another of his favorite hikes called the Grandview trail. This hike alone would have killed most people but for Greg it was just a warm up.
|Grand Canyon ~ Grandview Trail Trailhead (5/11/2019)|
|Grand Canyon ~ S. Kaibab Trailhead (5/13/2019)|
Later in 2019 we would again get together for another hike. This time it was partly my planning because I wanted to travel to Maine and hike Mt. Kathadin. Greg had already was planning a trip to Acadia NP so we were able to coordinate and spend another week together. This time he would drive with George from Ohio and I would meet him in New Hapshire at Mount Washington. Greg and George would hike Mt. Washington as as I had a late flight and a long drive from Boston so the best I could do is take the COG railroad to the summit. I arrived at Mt. Washington Parking lot as Greg and George had just finished their hike.
|Mt Washington, NH 6,288 ft (8/3/2019)|
We would spend three days in Acadia NP together camping at Seawall campground. We would visit Schooner Head, Cadillac Mountain, The Beehive, Sand Beach, Precipice Trail, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliff, Jordan Pond, Bass Harbor Light House and Bar Habor.
|Acadia NP ~ Seawall Beach (8/4/2019) |
|Greg on the The Famous Beehive trail (8/5/2019)|
We had absolutely perfect weather all week in Acadia NP and next we were onward to Baxter State Park for our hike of Mt. Kathadin. If we had only the time to climb Mt. Kathadin either a day sooner or day later the conditions would have been perfect, but for our summit day we weathered one of the windiest and rainest storms of the year. The following day we had a little extra time before we each headed our separate ways so took the afternoon to drive thru Kathadin Woods and Waters National Monument.
|Weather Report for Sumit Day|
|Climbing the Rock Pikes of Mt. Kathadin (8/8/2019)|
|Mt Kathadin 5,267 ft. (8/8/2019)|
Greg and George continued on into Canada for another couple of weeks of adventures.
|Cape Spear Newfoundlad|
My most recent adventure with Greg was again another trip to the Grand Canyon in 2021. This time we would hike down S. Kaibab and up the North Rim on N. Kaibab and Maureen would drive around the canyon and pick us up. Again he Greg had invited a group of friends which 3 of us would hike out of the N. Rim and the rest would do the route we did 2 years ago an exit the S. Rim.
|Grand Canyon ~ S. Kaibab Trailhead (5/30/2021)|
|S. Kaibab Trail (5/30/2021)|
|Top of N. Kaibab Trailhead at the North Rim Grand Canyon (5/30/2021)|