81st birthday wish: Climb Barn Bluff in Red Wing, Minn.


Barn Bluff in Red Wing, Minnesota has been scaled by earlier explores, the writer Henry David Thoreau, and now Donna Lee Fairbanks. For the 81-year-old cancer survivor and long-time Red Wing resident, summiting the bluff had always been a life's goal, so she chose her 81st birthday to knock it off her bucket list.

"I don't feel any different but I'm glad I made it this far," Fairbanks told Fox 9 while part way up the bluff.

Fairbanks, who is, among other things a great-grandmother, knows the importance of staying active.

"I go to Curves three times a week and my husband and I walk an hour a day every day usually."

But for the octogenarian, Red Wing's famous landmark had always been out-of-reach.

"I hope I make it to the top. I'll consider that an accomplishment."

Fairbanks has lived in Red Wing for most of her life, and before today never had time to climb Barn Bluff. It was after her daughter suggested the hike for her birthday she decided it was time.

"My mom is amazing. She's raised seven kids. Good grandmother. Great grandmother. I'm just proud of her," said her daughter Kristen Bohnbach.

Joined by four generations she made the hike 400 feet above the Mississippi River.

"I just think it's cool. I think we would all wish we could do this on our 81st birthday. There's a lot of younger people that probably couldn't do it," said Bohnbach.

Donna's outlook is to not make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to age.

"I get put out when people say 70 is old. I've heard 80 is the new 60 and 60 is the new 40. So that's what I'm going by."

At the summit, the bird's eye view and her family serenading her with a festive round of "Happy Birthday" had her spirit soaring,

"You are an inspiration to us all. Thank you. Thank you. We'll do this again sometime. Cheers," said Donna's granddaughter Kelsey Meyers

Combined with wonderful weather, the day made for a great birthday present.

"The view was worth the wait. The view is spectacular and it wasn't that hard at all. I do love the view," Donna said.

For her next birthday her family joked she should try climbing Mount Everest.

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