Rising to the Top

The Silver Queen will rumble up into the brilliant morning skies an hour earlier this Saturday, July 27, at 8 a.m., for Living Journey’s 14th Annual Summit Hike.
On Saturday, friends, family, men, women, children and cancer survivors will trek up the mountain for a united cause in a unique fundraiser for this local non-profit organization that helps community members affected by cancer.
The trio—Mary Mike Haley, Dana Zobs and Cheryl Ryan, who has since passed away from cancer—started Living Journeys to fill a county-wide need throughout the Gunnison Valley when there was no specific outlet for funding individuals with cancer.
The Summit Hike and Half Marathon are their main fundraisers of the year and helps those families and individuals in need by providing counseling services and financial assistance to Gunnison County men and women who have any type of cancer.
Most cancer groups provide money for research, mammograms, hospitals and medicines, but Living Journeys differs, says executive director Melissa Cunningham. “We help all people from Gunnison County with all types of cancer. We help them directly. We’re not sending any money to research, and all the money is staying in the county. Our demand for assistance has never been higher within the last year, which is all the more reason for people to participate,” she says of the independent grass roots organization.
Because there’s lift access, all ages and levels can join in the hike and you don’t even have to do a round trip hike because you can ride the lift back down. If you choose to hoof the hike in its entirety, from bottom to top and back down, then it’s an 11.5-mile hike, but there’s certainly loads of fun and scenery gawking to be had in riding the chair lift, which covers the 2,000 vertical feet in 15 minutes and leaves plenty of energy for the high alpine trail climb to the summit, where you’ll walk among pikas, marmots and friends.
The timed Half Marathon is in its third year and going strong. Melissa notes that the majority who have registered so far are new, first-timers. “I think the Half Marathon is drawing in new people because it’s a different kind of niche,” she says. It’s a 13-mile race that starts at the base area at 8 a.m. sharp and covers some challenging terrain. It’s limited to 100 runners, with prizes awarded for top male and female finishers, top master male and female, oldest and youngest finishers.
Of course there’s a party starting around 11 a.m. with live music by Alpine Soul, a trio that includes local John Fitzgerald on mandolin, and from Ridgway both Heather Flaker on stand-up bass and guitar, and Douglas Chard on stand-up bass and guitar. The trio will put out some tasty old-timey acoustic vocal genre.
And speaking of tasty, Oskar Blues brews will be on hand to quench your thirst after that hike or marathon run. Brunch will be served up by Dana Zobs and Stacee VanAernem of Crested Butte’s Personal Chefs. Entry into this shindig is covered by your hike or marathon registration fee of $50 and $10 for kids under 12. Fees include a chair lift ticket, a one of a kind t-shirt provided by the Gunnison Valley Health Foundation and that post-hike noshing-drinking-music celebration.
The silent auction features an eight-day dream trip to Costa Rica to four different resorts including the treehouse community of Finca Bellavista; a townie from the Alpineer; a day of Irwin Cat skiing; Deuter backpacks; Volkl skis; and more. Hungry but not up for the hike? You can still grab some grub, brews and fun for a mere $25.
All festivities are at the base of Red Lady lift on the mountain and you can register Friday, July 26, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Chamber of Commerce at the Four-way Stop or at the tent at the lift beginning at 7 a.m. on the day of the race/hike.
Volunteers are still needed to help with aid stations, the silent auction, registration, brunch, set up, and clean-up—so sign up.
The hike to the peak is glorious and with some wildflowers still in bloom it will be spectacular. However beautiful the expansive views, friends are coming together for a main purpose, to help those living with cancer. It’s all about the day and the cause. It’s honoring those who have passed. It’s about survivors. It’s whole families and a community coming together to help one another. Rise to the top this Saturday, enjoy the day, the views at 12,162 feet, and the events for a very worthy local cause.
For more information, to register or to volunteer visit the website at livingjourneys.org or call (970) 349-2777.

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