Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What Did I Do? by Joyce Keinitz

IntroductionWe have made many friends along the way that share our love of walking. In celebration of Walking Connection's 25th anniversary, we are featuring some of the people that we have met that have inspired us to keep on walkin'. The following was written in 2000 by one of our heroes! There are some people that cross your life's path that you can never forget... 
What Did I Do? It was April Fool’s Day. I started my walk at an altitude of 250 meters.  My destination seemed so very far away. And what were those little black dots?  What was that grayish mass? 
Was I really up for this challenge? I wasn’t sure, but I kept moving, putting one foot in front of the other.  I had to keep my eyes down to avoid tripping over the quartz and serpentine stones scattered everywhere. 
Soon, icy blue shapes came into focus.  They were bigger than I thought.  And the black dots became people.  As I drew closer, I saw water trickling down everywhere, creating new shapes as it went towards the stream bed. 
I didn’t want the group to stop and wait for me, so I followed directly behind our guide.   As she cut new steps into the ice with her axe, I climbed, sometimes holding the rope for dear life, and lifting myself with the walking stick.  The steps were at least 1/3 of my height. 
There was a man resting alongside the trail who the guide said, was a hermit who lived in a cave.  Sometimes he helped the guides clean up the trails.  We said “hello” and moved on, climbing at a slow pace. 
Finally, I knew I could not go on.  I told the guide that this was all I could do.  She looked at me and laughed, saying: “That’s all your group is going to do.  We’re going back down now.” 
Very carefully, we descended from our lofty plateau, placing our feet in newly chopped ice.  It was very slippery. Finally, we reached level ground again. The outing took approximately three hours. I was elated. I wasn’t sure I had the stamina...

But I did it. 
What Did I Do? Why, I climbed 70 meters on the Franz Josef Glacier in the South Island of New Zealand.
P.S. April Fool’s! Our guide did it to us. Remember the hermit? Well, he was actually one of the regular guides. He didn’t live in a cave.                 
More to the story: Joyce Keinitz is my hero. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1994 at the age of 55, she was determined not to let that slow her down. With a twinkle in her eye she set out on many adventures with the Walking Connection. 

In the year 2000 she traveled with me to New Zealand. Three days before we left she had a chemo treatment. Though one of the many side affects is fatigue, as you can see by her story, that did not stop her from living life to the fullest and challenging herself.  

Sadly Joyce lost her battle with cancer in October of 2001. Though many years have past, when I think of Joyce on top of that glacier, I miss her positive spirit that still makes me smile... 

"Don't cry when the sun is gone, 
because the tears won't let you see the stars." ~ Violetta Parra