78-year-old climber hikes Y Mountain monthly
Provo » On a crisp, fall day at the end of October, DeVerl Humpherys made his 200th consecutive monthly climb up Y Mountain. He was accompanied by his two sons, his daughter and several grandchildren, who all struggled to keep up with the 78-year-old.
"How come your kids are so slow?" asked his grandson on the way up.
Humpherys laughed and stopped to wait for the others. "This sure beats the treadmill," Humpherys said on the descent looking over Utah Valley.
His monthly hiking goal started more than 16 years ago after his third back surgery, when his doctor suggested that some activity would help to rehabilitate his back. Each month he would set out to hike the 7-mile loop with a 3,000-foot elevation gain.
The goal became 100 consecutive months. When he reached that, it became 200. And now he's hoping for 222, which would be August when he'll be 80.
His daughter, Lisa Rollins, came up with him eight years ago to celebrate his 100th and has been tagging along ever since.
"He's drug me along," she said.
"Nope," replies Humpherys. "She's kept me going."
But Humpherys doesn't need too much motivation from others. Most of the time anyone else who offers to hike with him gets left in his dust. He is in such great shape, actually, that his son, Kerry, 47, of Orem, started training in June for the celebratory 200th hike.
"Even after hiking all summer he can still do it faster than I can," Kerry said.
It takes Humpherys about three hours to complete the hike, 20 minutes more than his time from 16 years ago.
Waiting for them at the top is the previous hike's number arranged in the rocks. In the few short minutes that Rollins reaches the summit before her father she changes the last digit to reflect that day's hike and then she takes a picture of her father and the number for a scrapbook.
To stay in shape he walks several times a week whether it's from his home near Timpview to Squaw Peak Road or the Y Mountain trail or an occasional excursion to Southern Utah with friends and family. He's always doing something.
During the winter months the father-daughter duo strap on snowshoes and trek their way to the 8,566-foot summit through several feet of snow. Rollins, an ultra-marathoner, hikes ahead of her father, breaking the trail. Even though they've hiked the trail so many times, when it's covered in snow they end up taking the easiest way up, which sometimes means going straight up the side of the mountain.
They often don't see the hike number for five to six months in the winter when it is buried under several feet of snow.
In the eight years of hiking together the father and daughter duo have become incredibly close. Their monthly three-hour hike lets them talk everything out.
"I went through some really hard times and it was great bonding time," Rollins said.
She wasn't the only one, though, who overcame tough times. Humpherys battled prostate cancer in 2002. In between 25 rounds of radiation treatment he still managed to make it up to the summit every month.
"It hasn't always been easy getting up there," he said. "But we've always managed to do it despite these things."