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Hiking Las Vegas Blog
Bruce Small, a leader for the 52 Peak Club, is the first hiker in the history of the 52 Peak Club to become a Quin 53er.
I asked him questions about what motivates him and his background. Below are Bruce's answers.
When did you join the 52 Peak Club? 1st hike was April 15th, 2017 with James Fuentes to Oak Creek Overlook in Red Rock Canyon.
Your current age? 64
When did you become a 53er (first time)? March 25, 2018....delayed 5 weeks because of my heart attack on January 10th, 2018, while hiking for my 48th card.
When and why did you become a leader for the 52 Peak Club?
WHEN.... I remember September of 2017 but I didn't lead my first, solo leader hike, until February 20, 2018, the 2nd chance hike back to Fortification Hill after my heart attack. I hiked a lot with Branch, Oz and Rob to learn routes after I became a leader. So, actual leading my first hike was in February 2018.
WHY...I was asked by several members to approach Branch about becoming a leader. In my career of 25 years, I was a manager for most of those years. I have always been one to encourage and teach those that want to learn. It is a great feeling when you see the smiling faces of hikers after they accomplish something they thought they would never be able to do. With a little encouragement, guidance, confidence building and willingness to learn from the person, most everyone can get there.
What is your motivation to become the first 5x 53er? Motivation?....it's a lifestyle for me. While I am helping people to achieve their goal of becoming the next 53er, they are helping me to attain my goals too.....keep active and healthy while doing what I love and helping others to do the same. The cards and decks help me to organize my goals.
What advice for those hikers who want to become a double or more 53er?
The journey doesn't end at one deck. The mountains don't disappear after that prize. The routes are numerous...try them all. Use the cards as a measurement of how you are doing in staying active and healthy.
Why is climbing peaks so alluring to you? I'm realizing that no matter how you phrase a question about my hiking, it comes back to one common thing....health, happiness, fun, friendships...goals. The benefit of the peak being there....it gives me a goal. The difficulty of the route boosts the accomplishments of the journey to the peak.
What life lessons have you learned since being a member of the 52 Peak Club?
Being healthy is number one. I truly believe that if I was still the corporate, sedentary, behind the desk man and eating things that I couldn't pronounce when I had my heart attack, I probably would not have survived. We are only given so many years to enjoy ourselves and I am embarrassed at times that I spent too many of them thinking that when I retire, I will get out and do all the exciting, fun, outdoor, healthy things.
Well, like I said, if I would have followed that thought process, I may not be here today to experience the happiness, fun, friendships and goals that I have. The hiking community is nothing like any other kind of club that I have been associated with in the past. The common thing that I hear from so many hikers, is that when they are hiking there is not a worry in the world that they need to deal with. All the stresses of their everyday life disappear and there is a calmness that comes about them. The laughs, commonality and friendships create nirvana. Try it! You'll like it!
Branch Whitney is the author of Hiking Las Vegas and creator of the 52 Peak Club where members hike to the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas, NV