Looking for a mountain climbing experience—without months of preparation or time on an actual landmass of snow and ice? Head to The Outfitter in Harbor Springs on Tuesday, February 23 at 7 p.m. and you can indulge your inner endurance athlete without even having to bundle up.  Josh and Molly Baker, owners of the Harbor Springs outdoor sporting goods shop, will be sharing their story “19 Days on Denali” as part of an on-going educational lecture series. MyNorth caught up with Molly Ames-Baker recently to find out more.

MyNorth: You and Josh have lived or adventured on both coasts and many places in between.  What makes northern Michigan the place you wanted to call home? 

Ames-Baker: This is home to both of us because family is nearby, but also because we feel connected to this landscape.  Yes, the Rocky Mountains are majestic and being above treeline is exhilarating – but so is skiing through curled-up, brown beech leaves with clung-on snow or digging up the cool-underneath-sand with your toes as the sun drops into the lake.  These woods and shores have an ‘everyday’ beauty – one that can easily be overlooked but so easily rediscovered.

My North: Denali is the highest peak in north America, right?  In addition to the fact that you can now say "I climbed that beast," did you come away from the climb with some life lessons tucked in your pocket?

Ames-Baker: Climbing the mountain, but not actually reaching the summit, was a lesson in itself.  This was a tough, firsthand reinforcement of our belief that it’s the journey and the shared experience that are really what it’s all about, not others’ perceptions or our society’s definition of ‘success’.  On the mountain, as in daily life, it’s always amazing how much little things, given the situation/environment, can take on such weight.  Being reminded to keep things in perspective can be a challenge when focus is involved.

MyNorth: We don’t exactly have towering mountain peaks in northern Michigan, but we do have plenty of reasons to get outdoors.  What are some of your favorite activities here?

Ames-Baker: Everything is so accessible here – it’s amazing that we can be x-c skiing on the North Country Trail, telemarking at the ski slopes, kayaking on Lake Michigan or canoeing on an inland waterway in minutes (or less than a half hour) from the doorstep.  Not to mention the miles of road biking with little to no traffic at all.Hunting for leeks in the springtime and exploring the State Parks in the off-season are also favorites with our family.

MyNorth: Any other plans for outdoor education or adventures up your sleeves?

Ames-Baker: We are always looking for ways to bring more educational opportunities to the community.  In addition to the lecture series, we’re planning to offer hands-on workshops on a wide range of topics. We’re looking to add to the lessons that we now offer, we hope to add more courses/trips for both kids and adults like day hiking on the North Country Trail or even mountaineering on Mt. Rainier in WA.

The Bakers will present “19 Days on Denali” on Tuesday, February 23 at 7 p.m. For more information, go to www.outfitterharborsprings.com.

More Links to Fun in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and the Little Traverse Region!