Robert Fretz is a 46-year-old father of seven who had for too long put off his own desire for adventure and exploration in favour of his career and day-to-day responsibilities.

This year, he decided to make a change. Robert resolved to start living his most adventurous life in 2017.

Step one was joining explore’s Live The Adventure Club.

Robert’s membership in the LTA Club provided him with quality outdoor gear, plus access to exciting challenges designed to get him outside and active.

The LTA Club also connected him with new friends and a hiking group in his hometown of Calgary—allowing him to immediately tick off a key item from his Bucket List (as you’ll see below).

Robert was so inspired by his experiences with the LTA Club that he sent in this story, totally unsolicited.

It inspired us as well. His words resonated deeply with the explore staff:

“I forgot to be scared, forgot that I usually worked and not much else—and just went for it!”

We’d like to share Robert’s experience with you today. Enjoy. —David Webb, editor, explore magazine

Robert’s Story:

The beginning of the Prairie Mountain Trail, west of Calgary, Alberta, wasn’t too difficult, with some steep parts that lasted for only 10 metres or so. There was a little ice here and there, but it was easily avoided. The first time people in our hiking group actually stopped for a moment was just about 300 metres into the 3.5-kilometre hike. What at first looked like a few steep sections barely worth mentioning had suddenly turned into a challenging uphill trek.

Explore's LTA ClubRobert Fretz

A little further into the hike, we came upon a small clearing with an amazing view of the nearby mountains. I looked over to my friend; I couldn’t help but to complain about how I brought enough food for three days, a gallon of water I was sure I wouldn’t finish and clothing enough for a full-blown winter storm—not to mention that inflatable couch from the Live The Adventure Club Gear Box.

Right now it all seemed to weigh about 50 pounds.

I wondered aloud, “Why did I bring a gallon of water with me? Who needs that much peanut butter and honey? And why for the love of the soreness that I’m going to feel tomorrow did I ever accept those LTA Club challenges anyway?!” The answer was as immediate as the question leaving my lips: “Because it looked like fun!”

At that moment, a woman in her sixties breezed past me like this was a Sunday stroll. “This hike is going to give me a heart attack—but it’s worth the price of admission to have this view!” I commented as she passed me like I was barely moving.

“It’s the altitude,” she said without the need to catch her breath. “You just need a little time to get used to it is all. You’ll feel better once you reach the top. If you’re going that far...”

OK—that cut me deep.

Explore's LTA ClubRobert Fretz

But, it did manage to motivate me to push on harder and faster than before. If I was going to the top?! I took off another layer and continued with renewed determination. “IF” she says!

The closer I came to the top, the less I needed to rest and the more I felt chilled. Maybe I was getting used to thinner air, maybe this really was that high because I could feel the temperature drop by several degrees during the last 15 minutes of the hike. I had never climbed anything more than a small ski hill back in Ontario—and certainly never a mountain of any real size. This was all very new to me.

Once at the top, I was greeted by most of the group I had begun with. I was impressed with how friendly everyone was. “Come over here and sit here with us,” they said, welcoming me to the 2,214-metre summit elevation of Prairie Mountain.

Robert FretzRobert Fretz

I decided that before I took any pictures I would need to set up the Adventure Couch I brought with me. (There was no way I wasn’t going to use it now, after packing it all that way.) With the breeze, it inflated far faster than I was able to accomplish in my kitchen when I first opened the LTA Club Gear Box. Funny how it looks a lot more comfortable when it’s actually full...

I sat down, grabbed some beef jerky and began to admire a scene I cannot describe with words. I can’t even begin to convey the feeling I had sitting there on that giant orange “thingy.”

I had pushed myself to face a challenge, met new people, tried something I had never done before and forced myself to accomplish a goal.

I didn’t tell any members of my group that a hike into the Rocky Mountains, and to sit on the top of one of its many mountain peaks, had been on my Bucket List. The view, the emotions, being able to check off something from my very long list choked me up a little. I sat silently for a few minutes to compose myself.

Explore's LTA ClubRobert Fretz

If the explore’s Live The Adventure Club gear boxes are going to give me toys like this and challenge me to push my limits and help me find new friends—well, then I didn’t pay anywhere near enough for my box! There is no amount of money I could give to compensate for what I felt on the top of that mountain. The flood of emotion for having fulfilled a life long dream was decidedly—“worth the price of admission.”

Thank you to explore magazine, its editors, the LTA Club, the challenges and for what I would like to think of as a group of new friends. Thank you from the bottom of my humbled heart, now overflowing with joy and happiness.

A dream has been fulfilled. Thank you to those who helped make this possible and to those who pushed me to fulfill this goal. —Robert D. Fretz

Join Explore's Live the Adventure Club