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Climbing a Mountain at 70

When faced with tough situations, try to view them as opportunities to grow and learn: keep going despite setbacks.

In March 2002, Jim Simmons was profiled in an article in The Union newspaper titled "Reinventing Oneself at 65." The article described the life-transforming changes Jim, 71, of Grass Valley, Calif., made following retirement.

When a friend proposed hiking Mount Whitney, in California's Sierra Nevada range, Jim, now 71, went into training. He started walking 15 minutes a day three times a week until he was able to walk 2 to 4 miles five days a week. He dropped 35 pounds, from 215 to 180 pounds, from his 6-foot-1-inch frame.

Later that year, he went on to climb Mount Whitney. During the next two years, Jim completed hikes of the Lost Coast, the Grand Canyon (rim to rim), and the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. His day hikes are usually 15 to 25 miles.

When Jim celebrated his 70th birthday, his gift to himself was a planned hike on White Mountain Peak in California's White Mountains, which reaches more than 14,200 feet. But one Sunday, a walk in the park resulted in a broken kneecap.

Thanks to his excellent level of fitness, Jim recovered quickly. The injury set him back two months in terms of celebrating his 70th birthday on White Mountain, but it didn't stop him.

When obstacles occur on our fitness odysseys, and we all inevitably face them, it's important to keep going. Despite setbacks, as long as we keep going forward, we'll reach our dreams.

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