November 19, 2008 > A memorable climb up Mission Peak
A memorable climb up Mission Peak
By Praveena Raman
Photos By courtesy of Kent Beall and Steve Rodriggs
A few months back a local Boys Scout group, Troop 269 was planning a hike up Mission Peak. One of the troop members, Grant Beall who had just become a Boy Scout, excitedly signed up to go. However when he informed his parents, they were apprehensive and worried about letting Grant go on the hike and his father thought that he was perhaps being a bit over ambitious in his goal. Would he be able to keep up with the troop? What if he trips and falls? What if..?
At first sight Kent and Sheri Beall might seem like overprotective parents and one might think that there are so many boys in Boy Scouts doing this hike, what's so special about Grant? Grant Beall is a very special and courageous young boy. From birth Grant has been suffering from a condition called Cyclic Neutropenia. Every few weeks Grant's immune system does not produce enough white blood cells leaving him susceptible to infections. During his very early childhood every few weeks Grant received many antibiotic shots in his leg which resulted in a sore that got infected with flesh eating bacteria. To save his life Grant's parents had to make the agonizing decision to amputate his leg (to read more about Grant's condition and his positive outlook to overcome adversity - visit www.tricityvoice.com - July 10, 2007 issue). Since age five Grant has been not just getting around with the help of a prosthetic leg and crutches but has been achieving all the challenging goals he sets for himself - swimming, jumping on a trampoline, rock climbing to name a few. And now the challenge of conquering Mission Peak proved irresistible.
For the first time Scout Master Steve Rodriggs's troop had a child with prosthetics. The scouting program is set up to accommodate boys with disabilities. Scouting leaders are trained to work within a Scout's limitations and help him be successful in the program. Steve mentions that "Since Grant bridged in to Troop 269 in March, it's been a learning experience for all of us. Each outing we discover a little bit more about what Grant is capable of, and we are continually amazed at his enthusiasm, determination and positive outlook on life. My going in position with Grant was, let me know what you think you can or cannot do, and we will work with you to be successful." Steve then reassured Kent Beall about Grant's participation in the hike alleviating his concerns and letting him know that according to scouting trail etiquette the hike leader stops at trail crossings, letting the slow hikers catch up before resuming.
Preparing for the hike, Steve had advised Grant to listen to his body and go only as far as he thought he could and assured him that it was all right if he could not make it all the way to the top of Mission Peak. Steve also made sure that Grant and his family knew that Grant like all troop members would have a buddy to hike with him and that if Grant could not make it to the top his buddy and a couple of adult leaders would stay with him until the rest of the troop came back from the top. With this reassurance Grant's parents gave him their permission to hike up Mission Peak with Troop 269.
On the day of the hike, Grant decided to use his crutches instead of his prosthetics. His friend Nate Eitel, with a few adult leaders, stayed with him the whole way encouraging him when he got tired. The Troop also had some planned stops on the way up to learn map and compass skills, identify native plants and animals and to watch hang gliders. It took Grant about five hours to complete the hike. Of the hike itself Grant mentions "The climb up was harder and was very much of a challenge. Also the first half of the way up Mission Peak was slower because I had to stop to get water. After that Tim O'Marah offered to carry my water and give me a sip when I needed it so that I did not have to slow down. It felt incredible when I reached the top. It felt good to know that I could make it up there." Steve Rodriggs agrees that the hike up was a challenge for Grant who sported a few blisters and sore hands to prove it.
However the descent down was quite another experience for Grant and his troop. "On the climb down I was jumping about ten feet at a time on my crutches." Says Grant and Steve agrees " With gravity working in his favor and the two-crutch, one leg combination, Grant's downhill gait was about 10 feet per step. He flew past many of the scouts on the trip downhill and we had to caution him to slow down because he was going too fast!" This unexpected advantage was not lost on the rest of the Troop and in the end Grant surprised all of them with his belief, tenacity and courage.
Asked if he would do the hike again Grant says, "Yes, I would do it again just to have that incredible feeling at the top and to look out over Fremont and all of the other cities. Although the next time I would bring more water and snacks because I was starving up there. I had a very fun time and I am glad that the troop had the patience to wait for me."
After the Mission hike Grant has also hiked in Livermore with his troop walking over five miles up and down hills on his prosthetic leg. Steve Rodriggs is very pleased to have Grant in Troop 269 and says that he is an inspiration to all of them, both youth and adults.
For more information on Troop 269 please visit: http://www.nilestroop269.org/Home.aspx