The morning of Easter Monday I traveled to Reading to hike with a fellow weight loss success story. And what a success Sayre Kulp is. Like me, Sayre lost over 150 pounds through changing his life. Sayre is now in his third year of maintaining his loss. Between the two of us we lost the weight of a man our size. Since my partial regain that’ now a man two-thirds our size, but I’m going down again….
The hike utilized the trail network on Mount Penn, one of the two mountains overshadowing Reading, Pennsylvania’s sixth largest city. (Mount Neversink is the other one.) Atop Mount Penn is the Pagoda, a resort hotel that had the bad luck to open during the financial panic of 1907. The city of Reading wound up owning the failed business and after letting the structure sit unused for many years a local group restored it as a tourist attraction. 
The Pagoda and Mount Penn have special meaning for my friend. He grew up in Reading, and much of Sayre’s weight loss was on the climb up to the Pagoda – he would ride up the mountain in a recumbent trike reinforced for his weight. He no longer lives in Pennsylvania, so during his visit we met for a hike at his old stomping grounds. As you can see in the photo, Mount Penn is known for mountain biking as well as hiking. 

During a previous hike Sayre and I climbed up the steps from below the Pagoda to the main grounds. To do so in 2010 meant I had to get my legs over a hip-high fence. When I attempted to repeat the feat, I couldn’t manage to raise my legs that far. Sayre kindly grabbed each foot and pulled up so I could get over the fence.

The Pagoda from below:

The steps, with Reading in the distance.

In addition to hiking, we talked. Sayre is a musician. I am a writer. Both talents, though different, require the souls of the poet and philosopher, and those souls tend to come out whenever Sayre and I meet.

Our hike ended as it began – in the parking area for the Pagoda. This is perhaps my favorite view of the building, taken from the trail that runs alongside the road up to the building. With a little imagination you feel you are in Japan.

Would you ever guess that these guys each weighed more than 400 pounds? Or that the old guy on the left was once unable to walk a city block?