Sidewalk in the sky

Chris 'Repman, Jr.’ Cody and I just took a stroll along the “Sidewalk in the Sky.” That's the  nickname mountain guide par excellence Art Mooney ( gives to the Knife's Edge, a 1.1 mile long section of Maine's rugged, 11-mile long, 5,200 ft. tall Mt. Katahdin. DSCN6511ll

The “sidewalk” is treacherous. At points, it's only 18 inches wide with vertical drops of 2,000 feet on either side. One false step and any concerns about clients, new business or the national debt will come to an immediate and eternal end. But, that's precisely what makes the climb so refreshing. One MUST focus on every single step; ergo, one CANNOT think of anything else.

When I return to the office from one of these forays, I feel totally refreshed in a way that more sedentary vacations simply can't match.

Most people think I'm crazy. But, I'm just living my life. In fact, what I do pales in comparison to what such uber, middle-age athletes as Diana Nyad attempt. In case you missed Tuesday's NY Times Science section, the 61-year-old dynamo is about to swim 60 hours in shark infested waters to cover the 103 miles from Cuba to Key West. If she succeeds, Nyad will shatter every existing long distance swimming record.

Here's the coolest part about what Nyad's doing: she's not alone in her pursuit of athletic excellence at an age when most humans curl up on a couch and zone out to the latest episode of 'Glee’. Fifty-two-year old Jeannie Longo is still an elite cyclist. Gordie Howe played ice hockey in his 50s. George Blanda started as an NFL quarterback in his late 40s. And, Jack LaLane was 60 when he swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf (handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000 pound boat. And, they call me crazy).

Nyad says she swims to inspire others.”I hope a couple will say I want to live life like that (at the age of 61)." She added that her parent's generation considered 60 to be old. Not Nyad. "I'm in the middle of middle age.”

I like that line: the middle of middle age. I think I'll use it the next time I take a stroll along the Sidewalk in the Sky.

5 thoughts on “Sidewalk in the sky

  1. Thanks so much, Nancy. The weather was actually dicey on the ascent, but cleared up right after we reached the summit.

  2. Glad you conquered it Steve! By the photo, it looks like you had good weather – always a help! Hope the bugs weren’t too bad!
    Take care!

  3. “Wow. I really appreciate the feedback, Aaiello. I don’t know what to say except I totally get where you’re coming from and understand your perception that exercise can be drudgery. That said, I admire your tenacity and accomplishments. Keep at it. You’re right about my perception of food. I see it as fuel (not that I don’t enjoy a bottle of sancerre and stone crab claws every now and then). I’ve been blessed with a body that enables to keep pushing the limits and a dysfunctional mindset that drives me to exercise six days out of seven. Sometimes I wish I could slow down a bit. But, I can’t. I’m a total endorphin junkie.

  4. It sounds to me that mountain climbing is a very Zen experience… You must focus on the moment… and clear your mind of any extraneous thoughts… It sounds very liberating.
    Now ONLY if I wasn’t afraid of heights!

  5. I always admire your activity level, Rep, especially since you’ve got about 10 years on me. I recently began working out in earnest, and so far I’ve lost about 20 lbs. But I was just discussing with a colleague today how, in spite of the fact that there are many like you who feel absolutely refreshed after vigorous activity, for me it still remains a chore–and I suspect it always will. I began working with a personal trainer in January, and I just completed my first boot camp. I can now run three miles, and all my lab work is excellent. But I exercise only for those health benefits, because I have never reached the point where I said to myself, “God, I love this.” For me, it continues to hurt, and just about every second I’m working out I’m watching the clock and wishing I was somewhere else. I mentione this, too, because I know you’re fairly hard on Americans in general when it comes to obesity. In spite of my substantially increased activity level (I do at least an hour of hard exercise almost every day) I still have a profoundly difficult time controlling my food intake. My wife has a hard time relating, because she doesn’t have similar troubles. I suspect that you are like her–a “food is fuel and nothing more” kinda person. Fundamentally, I think that’s the real problem behind obesity. It’s not that folks are fundamentally lazy or victims of a sinister McDonald’s plot. Instead, for many of us–myself included–exercise continues to be painful and unenjoyable (albeit necessary), and food continues to be a vice where drinking, smoking, and carousing are not. Just wanted to offer you that perspective. But in any event, keep on truckin’–I live vicariously through you.