'If You Kill Dad, We're Going to Be Very Upset With You'

​20 miles. 24 neighborhoods. PittGirl takes her father on a hike to remember.



 

It takes a special kind of audacity to ask a 67-year-old man to take a 20-mile walk. When Light of Life Rescue Mission invited me to take part in the annual Tour with Tunch & Wolf — presented by former Pittsburgh Steelers players Craig Wolfley and Tunch Ilkin — I understood it to be a huge honor that I could not decline. Not wanting to do it alone, I selfishly asked my father to come along because he’s a supporter of the mission.

“How would you like to hike 20 miles with me for Light of Life?” I asked in my best “The Price Is Right” spokesmodel voice, trying to make potential hell sound like a breezy trip to heaven.

He agreed to do it. I have no idea why — though I’d bet his hearing aids were off and he misunderstood. My sisters had sent texts in the months leading up to the tour: “If you kill Dad, we are going to be really upset with you.”

You’d think a person who plans to walk 20 miles in the near future would put in a bit of preparation. Maybe a few 10-mile hikes. Extra stretches. A vitamin-rich diet. Nah. I took a 4-mile walk one day and woke up the next morning to find I had temporarily crippled myself. “Well, that’s not good,” I thought. And then I ate some cookies.

The day before the tour, my father had laser eye surgery on a torn retina. Assuming he would not be able to join me, I wondered how I could quickly tear something important in my own eye. His doctor said the tour would put no undue stress on his eyes.

Yay?

On the morning of the tour, I picked up my father at 5:30. The moon still was shining over Heinz Field when we arrived. In the parking lot, Tunch explained to all of the participants that we would be hiking “20-plus miles.”

“‘Plus?’ What is this ‘plus’ you speak of?” I thought in a panic. “I would like to get off this ride before it starts.” I sent up a quick “Jesus-take-the-wheel-and-maybe-gently-crash-me-into-a-runaway-truck-sandpile” prayer.

Off we went.

Heinz Field to deep in the North Side and then back to downtown for a rest. That was an easy 3 miles.

Then Tunch said, “Next stop. Squirrel Hill.”

Excuse my French but, “Pardonnez-moi?” Did you know in Pittsburgh it actually is possible to walk “uphill both ways”? Our parents weren’t lying about that. 

Jesus, take the wheel and get us stuck in some tunnel traffic so I can rest for a bit.

Mile 10. Various muscle groups were tightening up. Dad stopped occasionally to massage his calves. My sisters sent regular texts: The “Hydrate. Don’t infarct.” message was meant for my dad. “Your hamstrings are going to explode, you know?” was meant for both of us.

Mile 14. My knees were stiffening, and my father had gained a slight limp. “Is Dad still alive?” queried one text. “Yes. But I think I’m dying,” was my response.

Mile 16. Hamstrings were threatening to blow. I considered bike-jacking a cyclist on the Eliza Furnace Trail.

Mile 18. I realized a hip replacement probably was a lot closer in my future than it was 18 miles ago. Dad’s limp was borderline zombie-like. Then there was Tunch, who continued to march like a fresh soldier. I irrationally hated him for it.

Mile 19. Our bodies were warzones. Hips were yelling at ankles, which were giving the middle finger to knees, which were sending hate mail to the Achilles.

Mile 20. My eyeballs stopped making moisture, leaving my cloudy contacts fused to them like wallpaper. My father’s face was a mask of pain. When we reached the steps at the end of the West End Bridge, I briefly considered flinging myself down them because it was the path of least resistance.

And then it was over — 20 miles through 24 neighborhoods in 11 hours to benefit our city’s homeless population.

A bit later, we managed to fold our bodies into my car. I realized that in order to get us home, I would need to find the physical strength to transfer my foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal.

Jesus, take the wheel. I quit.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in January

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in January

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
2016 Pittsburghers of the Year: The Pittsburgh Penguins

2016 Pittsburghers of the Year: The Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins' hoisting of Lord Stanley’s Cup in June year speaks to the ability of the team and the organization to persevere, to dig deep when things looked bleak, and to roll up their sleeves and go to work when tough jobs had to be done — traits Pittsburghers have always appreciated.
The Big Guy with the Big Voice

The Big Guy with the Big Voice

After joining the Penguins in mid-season, head coach Mike Sullivan instills the focus needed to win the Stanley Cup.
The TV Series ‘Outsiders’ Finds a Home in Millvale

The TV Series ‘Outsiders’ Finds a Home in Millvale

Go behind the scenes to meet set and production designers and artisans who work magic, transforming neighborhoods into rural Kentucky.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Watch: Preview of Fascinating Rachel Carson Documentary

Watch: Preview of Fascinating Rachel Carson Documentary

Carson, a native of Springdale, is credited with launching the modern environmental movement. She is the subject of a new “American Experience” documentary airing Jan. 24 on PBS.
Joe Manganiello Knocks off Superman, Batman is Next

Joe Manganiello Knocks off Superman, Batman is Next

The Mt. Lebanon native and insanely loyal Pittsburgh Steelers fan is engaging in superhero trash talk with one of his movie co-stars.
Pipe Dream? Get From Pittsburgh to Chicago in 30 Minutes

Pipe Dream? Get From Pittsburgh to Chicago in 30 Minutes

Developers say such a trip, at speeds faster than a passenger jet, could be possible in five years.
Pittsburgh Pride Expands Events, Adds First-Ever Zip Line

Pittsburgh Pride Expands Events, Adds First-Ever Zip Line

The summer celebration of the region’s gay, bisexual and transgender community, already the fourth largest special event in Pittsburgh, will be even bigger in 2017.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in January

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in January

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
2016 Pittsburghers of the Year: The Pittsburgh Penguins

2016 Pittsburghers of the Year: The Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins' hoisting of Lord Stanley’s Cup in June year speaks to the ability of the team and the organization to persevere, to dig deep when things looked bleak, and to roll up their sleeves and go to work when tough jobs had to be done — traits Pittsburghers have always appreciated.
The Big Guy with the Big Voice

The Big Guy with the Big Voice

After joining the Penguins in mid-season, head coach Mike Sullivan instills the focus needed to win the Stanley Cup.
The TV Series ‘Outsiders’ Finds a Home in Millvale

The TV Series ‘Outsiders’ Finds a Home in Millvale

Go behind the scenes to meet set and production designers and artisans who work magic, transforming neighborhoods into rural Kentucky.
Restaurant Review: Spoon in East Liberty Gets a Fresh Polish

Restaurant Review: Spoon in East Liberty Gets a Fresh Polish

Hiring Jamilka Borges as executive chef and a fresh interior design revive the East Liberty restaurant.
Talk of the Tahn: The Gift I Was Given

Talk of the Tahn: The Gift I Was Given

My brother taught me how to ski on rented metal sticks. Boyce Park. It was the first thing we ever did together besides fight over the last slice of pizza.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Watch: Preview of Fascinating Rachel Carson Documentary

Watch: Preview of Fascinating Rachel Carson Documentary

Carson, a native of Springdale, is credited with launching the modern environmental movement. She is the subject of a new “American Experience” documentary airing Jan. 24 on PBS.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
G&G Noodle Bar Downtown Will Close

G&G Noodle Bar Downtown Will Close

Its shuttering is the first significant Pittsburgh restaurant closing of 2017.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Popularity of The Flats on Carson is a Mystery

Popularity of The Flats on Carson is a Mystery

After Dark visits the South Side bar which attracts big crowds on the weekend — and, on Sunday, was the scene of a well-publicized arrest.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
You Can Hope, but Don't Expect an Easy Steelers' Win in KC

You Can Hope, but Don't Expect an Easy Steelers' Win in KC

Pittsburgh blasted Miami because the Steelers performed as expected against an opponent that was depleted by injury and overwhelmed by its circumstances. But that isn’t likely to happen again.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Check out the chic decor from Pittsburgh-based artist and designer Janice Nelson.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Scorsese's Silence Proves Worth the Wait (and the Weight)

Scorsese's Silence Proves Worth the Wait (and the Weight)

Reviews of "Silence," "Live by Night" and "Patriot's Day."

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

From coast to coast and continent to continent, these couples showed that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

The locally owned active wear boutique is slated to open in March. Plus, get all the details on Pittsburgh’s new luxury residential real estate firm, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Benedict Oddi’s collection “Scouts and Nomads” will be on display in a campus gallery.

Comments