Having been home for a few days, I’ve had a little time to sit back and reflect on the 9 days that I just spent with Rick in Banff and Lake Louise as we took on the Big Mountain Challenge to raise almost $27000 for The Kidney Foundation of Canada. To say that those 9 days were a whirlwind would be an understatement. Without a doubt, the Big Mountain Challenge was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect, I really need to say thank you again to so many people. Sadly, thank you just doesn’t seem to express the gratitude that I’m feeling.
Brewster Canada – Brewster Canada was in charge of getting Rick and me safely from wherever we were to wherever we needed to be. Simply put – if not for them, we’d have missed out on all of this. Thank you!
Parks Canada - Parks Canada joined Rick and me as we hiked Cascade Mountain (thanks Nathalie) and Sulphur Mountain (thanks Paul). Both of our Parks Canada Interpreters were highly knowledgable, highly entertaining, and just awesome people all around. It was amazing to hike the mountains that we hiked, but it was even better because you were there with us.
Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse - This particular component of the adventure was far more educational and entertaining than I had thought it might be. Suzanne – the owner of the teahouse – is an amazing woman. I’ve never seen anyone juggle so many things at once, while taking the time out of her exceptionally busy afternoon to chat with Rick and me. Thank you so much for chatting with us, sharing your family history, and feeding us. If you didn’t know before, the fastest way to my heart is through my belly.
Yamnuska - Our guides Jason and Joe were provided courtesy of Yamnuska. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to officially finish the challenge. Of course, just because they had to be there for the contest does not mean they weren’t amazing. Jason, thank you for putting up with Rick and me – especially when we had to make all those videos. Thank you for keeping us safe. And thank you for giving us the time to take in everything around us. Joe, also known as MountainGuide.com, thank you for leading us safely up Mount Eiffel. Thank you for your humour. Thank you for teaching us about proper footwear. You are both fantastic guides and will forever be an integral part of this adventure.
Fairmont Banff Springs & Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise - I know I’ve said this before, but it needs to be said a million times. Fairmont spoiled us thoroughly. From platters of fruit, to cheese and crackers, VIP treatment, breakfasts, lunches – you name it – the Fairmont hotels went above and beyond to treat Rick and me like we were some sort of royalty. I will never be able to visit another hotel again without comparing it to Fairmont. A huge thank you to James for getting us into the spa after our final hike – a massive feat when you consider that he did this on Labour Day weekend. I don’t know what strings you had to pull, but you did, and we are so grateful.
Banff Lake Louise Tourism - The group responsible for pulling this adventure together. Thank you for the opportunity to do this challenge. Thank you for taking care of Rick and me. Thank you for arranging a second attempt to summit Mount Temple. I’m sure this wasn’t an easy feat – especially given that it was the Labour Day weekend – but you did it and we are so thankful. I was stoked by the fact that I was going to get to climb three mountains. To end up climbing five is some sort of awesome-icing on the awesomest cake in the history of awesome cakes. Stu and Jeff – you guys are amazing. Thank you for everything.
The Kidney Foundation of Canada - Diane Kashuba, thank you for your tireless work to fight such a good fight. While I knew that this challenge was going to allow us to raise money for the Kidney Foundation, I never knew how much it would affect me. I’ve raised money for charity before, but this was so much different. I think it’s a combination of hearing personal stories (via Rick) about families and individuals who have dealt with or are still fighting kidney disease, and the incredible sense of doing something right that overwhelmed me at the top of Sulphur Mountain when Rick and Stu were able to present you with a cheque for over $25000. I’m not an overly emotional person, but I almost cried joy-filled tears when the cheque was handed over. The work that you, and the Kidney Foundation do are amazing. Please don’t ever stop the fight.
Our Support System - Of course, none of this adventure would have happened without the support of friends and family who spent so much time voting for Rick, and then donating to such a worthy cause. Thank you for everything. A special thanks to Sony & Gary, and Robbie for joining us during our final hike – having you there was a huge boost. And a huge thank you to Vanessa & Paul (& Charlie) – without you Rick and I wouldn’t have been able to make our second attempt at Mount Temple. You two are amazing and I miss you already.
Rick - Last but not least, I need to thank Rick. You sir are a large slice of kick-ass, wrapped in awesome, and deep-fried in amazing. I can’t begin to express how much I look up to you and admire you. Thank you for bringing me along on this crazy adventure. Thank you for working your ass off to raise almost $27000 for The Kidney Foundation of Canada. Thank you for truly being an inspiration to me and all those who have the pleasure and good fortune of knowing you. I have no idea what I did to deserve a friend like you, but I am thankful for your friendship every single day. Sentiments.
Truly – this was far more than a vacation. This was an experience that I won’t ever forget. Thank you to everyone who made this possible. Thank you to everyone for supporting us. Thank you to friends who cheered us on. And thank you to Rick for being such an inspiring and amazing man.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
- Big Mountain Challenge – Complete! (consumedbywanderlust.wordpress.com)
- Unfreaking Believable (consumedbywanderlust.wordpress.com)
- Thank You Thank You Thank You (consumedbywanderlust.wordpress.com)
- 26762 Reasons To Smile (danielgillis.wordpress.com)
- When One Equals Two (danielgillis.wordpress.com)
- Reaching new heights for charity (insidehalton.com)