To the editor:
The Adirondacks are where it all began for us. For the last five years they've been our home and our greatest passion. My best friend Gabe and I consider ourselves among some of the luckiest people on earth, largely because of the opportunities we've been fortunate enough to have during our time in the woods. The 'Dacks have made us both who we are and what we want to become. Through hiking, backpacking, climbing and generally being outdoors, we've found our passions, developed our goals and set a course for the rest of our lives. We've forged and solidified friendships, and we know now, better than ever before, what it truly means to trust. We've tested ourselves both mentally and physically against the strongest of all forces, Mother Nature, and learned the arts of working with her. The outdoors have taught us self-reliance, determination and hard work.
But we also know that, as all-inclusive as being outdoors can be, there are many kids who haven't had the opportunities we have had. The Colorado-based charity Big City Mountaineers has been working for the last 23 years to change that. By allowing underprivileged, inner-city kids to experience the outdoors, it is transforming lives, broadening horizons and allowing the kids who need it most to have the same experiences that we have been taking for granted.
Next summer, Gabe and I are looking to give back for everything we have learned in the Adirondacks. Through BCM's fundraising arm, Summit for Someone, we will, after raising a pledged amount of money for BCM, be heading west to climb Washington's Mount Rainier, something we also believe will help us get our foot in the door to high-altitude mountaineering. But first, in an effort to raise awareness for BCM and the thousands of kids they help, we will be embarking, earlier in the summer, on a 200-plus-mile, three-week bisection of the Adirondack Park, Blue Line to Blue Line.
Although we will always consider the 'Dacks our home and although there is still plenty we wish to accomplish here, climbing Rainier and completing the traverse will complete the cycle we've been working our way around for the past five years: advancing to the next step in our outdoor careers and mountaineering, while allowing other kids to have the opportunity to experience all that we have and to learn all that we've been able to.
But we can't do any of this alone. With a pledge to BCM to meet and numerous other costs to support the expedition, we're relying on a great deal of assistance from our friends, family and the community that has supported us thus far. Check out our website at www.adirondacktraverse.org to learn how you can help, to read more about who we are, what our mission is and whom we're supporting. Please help us spread the outdoors by supporting us. Any donation or other support you could offer will be greatly appreciated by us and by the thousands of at-risk youth that you will be introducing to the wilderness and giving one of the greatest gifts possible.
We'll see you on the trail this summer!
Ryan P. Wichelns