Steep Adventures, Substantial Rewards

Steep Adventures, Substantial Rewards

By Katie (Paxson) Hammaker ’93 

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014 was a great adventure for Michelle Deller ’96, but the biggest thrill was knowing that her efforts would provide clean drinking water for nearby villages. 

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61-Mile Trek in Peru Raises $58,142

61-Mile Trek in Peru Raises $58,142

Each mile our group of 10 trekked around Ausangate Mountain in Peru raised almost $1,000 to help the school, PROMESA, reach their new land. Here are a few letters highlighting the impact of our efforts.

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Walk the Ausangate Trek

Walk the Ausangate Trek

Take a journey on the Ausangate Trek with a day-by-day video diary. If you watch it while breathing through a straw, you'll get a small idea how it was breathing at elevations between 13,000 - 17,000 feet.

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The Road to PROMESA - Day 1

The Road to PROMESA - Day 1

On Tuesday, October 17, the journey of ten individuals began to circumnavigate the Ausangate Mountain (highest peak in the Cusco region). Through this Trek of nearly 61 miles we hoped to build a road for the PROMESA school in Cusco, Peru. Each trekker raised funds for the road prior to setting out on this incredible and challenging journey through the Peruvian Andes. 

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The Road to PROMESA -Day 2

The Road to PROMESA -Day 2

It’s not often that you wake up at 14,500 ft to a view of a snow capped mountain, day 2 was just such a morning. There were a few morning headaches amongst the group, but thanks to a little Peruvian red & white pill (mostly caffeine), we were ready to face the day.  

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The Road to PROMESA - Day 3

The Road to PROMESA - Day 3

Emerging from a warm sleeping bag, when you know there is snow and cold air awaiting you on the other side of the nylon tent, is quite difficult. Despite the struggle, Day 3 would prove to be the most challenging, and yet, the most rewarding day on the trek.

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The Road to PROMESA - Day 4

The Road to PROMESA - Day 4

Peeling out of the tent for the third time on this trek revealed the work done through the night, snow covered mountains. Once again, we were thankful for not returning to the high campsite where snow would have certainly found us.

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The Road to PROMESA - Day 5

The Road to PROMESA - Day 5

False summit - this was the theme of the morning. When you think you've finally reached the top, only to discover that there is still another knob, and then another, and the obstacles to the summit kept coming around every bend. I'll admit it was a little deflating after about five false summits.

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Preparing for a Steep Adventure

No matter how steep the adventure, there is a certain amount of preparation required to successfully complete, and enjoy, the journey. Getting to the final destination will be a reward of preparation, determination, and accomplishment. Anyone that signs up with Steep Adventures will be coached in training for the upcoming challenge.

Training ideas will be suggestions for getting ready for the challenge. Putting in the preparation time will be rewarded when the challenge begins. During the months leading up to my climb to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, my training regimen was weaved into the daily demands of life, but there was always a nagging feeling that it was not enough. Feeling fully prepared for an adventure is quite an elusive feeling, just know that every effort to train will be appreciated during the journey.

Do activity that you love and involve others in your training. Accountability will keep you motivated and having fun in the process. Sign up for events, there is nothing like the outlay of money to keep one motivated to train. Cross training will also help to keep variety in your workout, and ensure a range of muscles are prepared for the journey.

Above all remember, a Steep Adventure challenge is about enjoying the entire process of reaching the goal, both physically and in support of the cause!

Bike Ride Supports Clean Water Access

Bike Ride Supports Clean Water Access

On July 16, 2016, I hopped on my bike and rode from Washington DC to Pittsburgh, PA on a tow path and adjoining rail trail over 6 days, with 7 riders joining me for various lengths of the journey. Besides being a fun, scenic, and overall enjoyable ride, the purpose was to raise support and awareness for the world's water crisis. While on the trail, I was constantly reminded about the importance of water.

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Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 1

Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 1

Day 1: Georgetown to Marble Quarry Campsite - 37.8 miles

An easy day of riding with a fairly well groomed trail. Notable stops were at Great Falls (hike out for the view of the Potomac River) and the Great Falls Visitor's Center (catch a look at the horses pulling the boat).

We hit a storm rolling in about 2 miles from the campsite, so we hunkered down in a pavilion next to the Whites Ferry for about 2 hours. It turned into a perfect shelter from the rain. My cousin's wife was able to meet us with dinner.

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Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 2

Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 2

Day 2 - Marble Quarry to Jordan Junction - 63.4 miles

We rolled out of camp a little later than expected, but the bullfrogs were loud during the night so it was a somewhat slow morning. Whenever I jump on my bike, I always feel like I'm missing something, perhaps that's because nothing is actually attached to my body. As we rolled out of camp, I was excited to begin exploring more of the trail.

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Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 3

Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 3

Day 3 - Jordan Junction to Potomac Forks - 63.6 miles

Thieves struck in the middle of the night, the furry kind that are sneaky. At 11:30pm I heard my lidded-bowl fall to the ground. I emerged from the tent to investigate with pepper spray in hand, a whistle, and my headlamp. I found the bowl under the picnic table, grabbed it and went back into the tent. A few hours later I heard more rustling, so I again grabbed the arsenal and headed out into the night. This time my little stove was gone and my pannier was partly unrolled, but still clipped shut. I needed more light so I grabbed the light off of my bike and began searching for my stove. About 10 feet away, I found the stove! At 2:30 am, it's not the best time to be fiddling with hanging food bags, so I just took the pannier and stove into the tent. Thankfully the raccoons left me alone, although I did hear them rustling through remaining items on the picnic table. Lesson learned, hang the food!

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Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 4

Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 4

Day 4 - Potomac Forks to Meyersdale - 51.2 miles

A farmer stopped the night before as he was making his way back from scoping out a fishing spot, and told to make my way down to the river for an incredible view. I'm sorry to say I didn't make it down to the river. Hunger overcame me the night before and in the morning the activity of packing up camp consumed too much time. I guess I'll have to return sometime to get the view.  

There was a delay getting started in the morning, because I wasn't emerging from the tent while the rain was still falling. I had a rider joining me for the morning, so it was a rush to get everything packed up, breakfast made, and water filtered before the meeting time. It was only 18 miles until I would finish the C&O Canal trail, all 184.5 miles of it from Washington DC.

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Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 5

Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 5

Day 5 - Meyersdale to River's Edge Family Campground -  60 miles

After crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, it was supposed to be all down hill, I guess it was but it was hard to tell. I met up with my final riding companion in the morning and we took off on the super highway, the GAP Trail. This trail is well groomed and much faster riding than the C&O Canal.

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Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 6

Bikepacking - DC to Pittsburgh - Day 6

Day 6 - River's Edge Family Campground to Pittsburgh - 58 miles

The last day on the trail! It was a bittersweet finish. The time on the trail was worth every challenge, muscle tweak, and hot, sweaty day. Six days and 334 miles of trail was an amazing journey and accomplishment. When I got home, I started searching for other trails without traffic. There is something nice about hitting a trail instead of the road, and I've done both.

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