Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 11:46 AM
By: Debbie Juniewicz - Contributing Writer
— Age is just a number, and the three featured presenters at the 2018 Adventure Summit are proof.
From the youngest person to scale the Seven Summits, to the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail to a woman who decided that a 1,200-mile solo kayak trip was a priority, their stories are both inspirational and motivational.
With presentations, demonstrations and competitions, the Adventure Summit will supply information and inspiration to outdoor adventure seekers of all ages and ability levels. The biennial event – sponsored by Five Rivers MetroParks and Wright State University – is free and open to public Feb. 9-10 at the Wright State University Student Union.
It started with a walk down his elementary school hallway and led to a record-breaking adventure of a lifetime.
“I saw a mural of the Seven Summits in my school and I thought it was really cool,” Romero said. “I did my research, planned, wrote out a list and, one day when my dad picked me up from school, I told him what I wanted to do.”
The then 9-year-old wanted to reach the summits of the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents — Everest, Kilimanjaro and Denali, just to name a few. Dad — an ultra runner and adventure seeker in his own right — was onboard with the idea and soon became his young son’s climbing companion.
By the time he was 13, Romero had become the youngest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. And, at 15 — before he even had a driver’s license – he was the youngest person to have reached all Seven Summits.
“It seemed overwhelming — I mean climbing Kilimanjaro as a 10-year-old,” Romero. “But I had such great support and everyone was so encouraging.”
The now 21-year author of “No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits” will share his experience on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.
Research and risk assessment are among the things that Romero — now a student at Westminster College in Utah — advises other adventure seekers to prioritize.
“You definitely want to know what you’re getting yourself into,” he said. “Start small, it takes the right mindset to accomplish something like this. You will be overwhelmed — I know I was — but remind yourself that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
Whether it’s climbing or cycling or paddling, Romero encourages young people to find their passion.
“I tell kids to ‘find their Everest’ and know what their mountain is to climb.”
SUSAN MARIE CONRAD
The avid paddler now jokingly admits that it sounds a bit like a country music ballad but, at the time, Susan Marie Conrad was finding few reasons to smile.
“My dad had died, my cat died and a long-term relationship had just ended,” she said. “My life had spun off kilter and I was looking for a way to get it back on track.”
Conrad was also “pushing the big 50,” another reason to pursue a bucket-list type adventure. So she embarked on a 1,200-mile journey through the Inside Passage in an 18-foot sea kayak in the spring of 2010.
From Anacortes, Washington to Juneau, Alaska, Conrad ventured for 66 days – a full 56 days longer than her previous longest trip. It was a journey that was both physically and emotionally taxing.
“I did get into some pretty nasty weather – miserable gale force winds that were a bit more than I bargained for – and there were some moments I wanted to pack it in and go home,” Conrad said. “But, in the end, I was surprised by my own strength and courage.”
That wasn’t the only surprise.
“I knew it was going to be beautiful, but I truly didn’t expect the grandeur and magic that I encountered,” she said.
“And, setting out on the trip, I knew it was going to change me somehow but I had no idea how much. It’s just so profound how the trip helped me become a stronger, more courageous person and how incredible the healing power of nature is.”
The author of “Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage” encourages others to find opportunities for growth. And for those you decide to take on a monumental challenge – like a 1,200-mile solo kayak trip – she has some simple advice.
“Set a date, give yourself a deadline and, every day, do something toward that goal,” she said. “And start blabbing to people about it and then there’s no turning back. That’s what I did and my pride wouldn’t let me back out.”
Conrad will be the featured presenter on Saturday, Feb. 10 at noon.
DALE “GREY BEARD” SANDERS
There were doubters, but Dale Sanders paid no attention to them.
“There were some so-called experts, people who told me, at my age that I didn’t have a chance,” Sanders said. “I proved them wrong.”
The 82-year-old – nicknamed “Grey Beard” – became the oldest person to complete a thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail on Oct. 26, 2017. He set out on Jan. 1 and 2,190 miles later, completed his record-breaking feat. Along the way, he logged 4,625,250 steps.
Too old? Don’t even try that excuse on Sanders.
“That’s an extremely lame excuse,” he said. “If anything, the more you do, the more good it does for the body and the better you feel.”
That’s not to say, the AT hike was a picnic. Sanders endured weight loss and dealt with health issues along the way.
“I know exactly what surprised me the most, that it was as hard as it was,” Sanders said. “But I was determined to finish.”
The longtime hiker was also pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie he encountered along the way.
“The way I was accepted by the other hikers, the way they took me in as one of their own and treated me with respect and kindness was just incredible.”
Sanders – who will talk about his adventures on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. – is not one to rest on his laurels and is already pondering ideas for his next outdoor adventure. Those who want to follow him can do so at www.greybeardadventurer.com/.
CHECK OUT THE ADVENTURE SUMMIT
What: The area’s premier outdoor adventure exposition
When: Friday, Feb. 9, 5-9 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Wright State University Student Union
Events: Featured presenters, educational sessions, competitions, fitness classes, club information, used gear sale beer tasting and more
More: For a complete list of events and daily schedule, visit http://theadventuresummit.com/