Hello Everyone and welcome to my hiking journal site. My name is Michael Stein and many of you may know me by my trail name “Mileage Mike”.
This site is an outgrowth of a goal I have to hike 25,000 miles over my lifetime, or a distance approximately equivalent to the circumference of the earth. The idea to hike this mileage originated from the need to find ways to cope with the stresses of life and purpose in the later years of life.
Let me start at the beginning of this story. I was born in Chicago, Il. and lived in the northern suburbs for my entire childhood. I graduated from Niles East High School, in Skokie, Il., and then went to the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) where I earned a BSEE (Bachelors in Electrical Engineering). I met my wife there and we got married right out of college, and moved to Beaverton, OR, where I worked in the tech industry. The job in Beaverton wasn’t what I expected, and so I applied for another tech job in Vancouver, WA, where I was employed for the next 19 years. During this time, my wife and I raised three sons, who are now grown up and out of the house! I also earned an MSEE (Masters of Electrical Engineering), at the University of Portland during this time.
My career of 19 years ended, and within a few weeks I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a rude awakening for how fragile life is for all of us. I spent the next year recovering from the radiation treatment, but have now been cancer free since 2001. The stress of my long career led to me vowing that I would never work in the tech industry again, so I started up a job in my favorite hobby; photography. The photography business was very good until the digital camera industry reduced our client base and profitability. I wasn’t a very good business person, so I realized there was no choice but to go back into the tech industry and practice engineering once again.
It was during the beginning of my second career, as a manufacturing engineer, that I realized that the stress of the job would be overwhelming without a way to vent it. At first, my wife and I started out hiking once a weekend. I related that hiking once a week wasn’t enough to de-stress from the long workweek (I also had a daily commute of about 75 miles, and 2 hours minimum on the road). We then decided to increase our hiking to include every day of every weekend, year round! Add to this that all of our vacations and holidays are hiking events and the number of yearly hikes become large! The decision to hike a mileage equivalent to the circumference of the earth arose during discussions on these hikes. Although my wife accompanies me on most hikes, she doesn’t have the same goal that I do. We have continued to hike at this rate since April 03, 2008 and haven’t looked back.