Celebrating by summiting

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Hill Country Outdoors

Ifirst met the Rev. Glenn O’Shoney over the phone during a conversation in which I explained that his son and my best friend, Joel, had been arrested for a partially unpaid speeding ticket in Sanderson while we were hunting the wilds of West Texas.

The Reverend listened patiently to my explanation of the situation, then sent bail money via a courier some nine hours from his home to bail his son out and help me out with my unexpected overnight motel stay.

Despite this awkward beginning, the Reverend and I have built a nice relationship that has lasted more than two decades.

As the former Executive Director of World Missions for the Lutheran Church, the Reverend traveled to almost 60 countries during his almost 40 years with the church. I often seek his advice about countries my work would take me to, then exchange notes with him afterward telling him about my experiences in those same countries.

The Reverend was always active during his trips and his love of the outdoors and outdoor activities continued well after his retirement in 2001.

In 2011, the Reverend celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary by hiking to the top of Enchanted Rock with his wife of five decades. The Reverend loved the climb and repeated it several times in the decade that followed.

Things changed dramatically in July 2018, however, when the Reverend suffered a massive heart attack that resulted in quadruple bypass surgery. The Reverend feared his outdoor activities were over.

“I lost 40 pounds following the surgery and became incredibly weak,” O’Shoney said. “My first day of rehab, they put me on a treadmill set to the lowest setting. I fell off the darn thing. Couldn’t keep up.”

The Reverend got back up off the floor — literally and figuratively — and kept at it, exercise- and rehab-wise. I heard about just how well the Reverend was doing when son Joel called last month to tell me of his father’s plans.

“Dad wants to climb up Enchanted Rock again,” Joel said. “He wants to celebrate his 84th birthday with a hike up to the top. Can you help me on that?”

“Help you how?” I asked.

“In case I need to carry him off of there or something,” Joel said. “He’s 84 and had quadruple bypass surgery less than a year ago!”

I agreed and met the Reverend and Joel for the hike early on the morning of June 8. The Reverend was ready and in his standard octogenarian outfit of starched jean shorts, a comfortable polo shirt, bleached bright white socks pulled to mid-calf, and a slick new pair of Skechers sneakers.

Despite a slow start, the Reverend reached the top with little to no problem, only stopping every now and again for a quick breather, to gulp some water, or to offer greetings to folks coming down the mountain or passing him en route to the top.

The three of us reached the summit in about 45 minutes at which time the Reverend basked in his accomplishment and reminded Joel and me and himself that less than a year ago he was on death’s door.

He paused for a few pictures including a joke pose that showed him dead atop the mountain. “I’m gonna text this one to my wife,” the Reverend laughed.

The pictures taken and the moment relished, the three of us headed back down.

“Same time next year?” I asked as we entered the parking lot.

“Let’s see, I’ll be 85 then. You bet! Let’s plan on it!”

Young is a Fredericksburg

resident and avid outdoorsman whose work appears in the newspaper, Rock & Vine magazine,

and other outdoor publications.