I am the Sasquatch

hiking, I went outside

I had a little mini breakdown at the trailhead this weekend. I’m not proud of it. It wasn’t a great moment. But it happened, so I’m owning it.

This is what happened: I forgot my socks. The socks I had so painstakingly packed to ensure my feet wouldn’t get new blisters. The wool socks and thin liner socks that would help keep my feet dry and hotspot-free. They were not where I had put them. And therefore, they were not in the car but in my overnight bag at The Boy’s house.

The thing is, the mountains are where I’m competent. I transition quickly. I know the trail. I know my limits and I push myself beyond them. I am on time. I am prepared.

But not this week.

The Boy was quick to solve the problem, though, and immediately suggested I wear his wool socks and he would wear his cotton pair. I was reluctant to get on board; he needed those socks, too. But if I didn’t comply, I wasn’t gonna be hiking. And that’s just not an option.

So I did it.

While I was putting duct tape on my heels in an effort to prevent further blisters, The Boy handed me his gray, wool Sasquatch socks. (I love these socks, btdubs.)

“Now you can hike with the power of the Sasquatch,” he said.

“I am the Sasquatch,” I grumbled back. And then I laughed.

There’s a meme floating around the internet these days. Something along the lines of:

The Devil whispered in her ear, “You cannot withstand the storm.”

She looked the Devil in the eye and said, “I am the storm.”

I’ve seen versions using The Warrior, and Spartan, but I’m not sure where it comes from. I suspect it’s popular right now because of our larger political climate and the women’s resistance movement. No matter where it comes from or how it got here, it speaks to me.

For my soul, the sentiment goes right alongside of the Fearless Girl facing off with The Bull in New York City’s Financial District.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

My feet handled the hike up Mount Si’s Old Trail in those Sasquatch socks like a champ. Don’t get me wrong, my feet were still sore, and there was a little more loose skin at the end than when I started, but they survived much better this week than they did last week. I’m still unsure if it was the duct tape or the socks.

Persistence is a theme on my mind as of late. Politics aside, hiking is HARD, you guys. This beginning of the season stuff is hard work. My feet are soft. My shoulders are weak. My diaphragm can’t expand enough for my lungs to bring in enough oxygen.

My legs… oh my legs.

I know that the best way to get conditioned for climbing a mountain is to, well, climb a mountain. I’m working on it. I’m getting there. But this is hard work. Some hikes are good and I get tired and worked over, but I enjoy feeling my body work hard and become stronger. That’s what hooked me in the first place. My body can do this. You see that mountain there? I climbed that. My body did that.

Other times, my brain gets the best of me. Even if my body handles it, my emotions and mind get beat down, and I wonder how I even ended up here. What am I even doing here on the side of this mountain in the freezing wind and snow, with burning lungs and soaked through? WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!

But that’s part of the process, too, isn’t it? The mind must be challenged. Any mountain climber will tell you, it’s not only your body that has to make it to the top, but your mind as well. When that little voice inside pops up and says, “Who do you even think you are, to do something like this?” You have to be able to say, “I am the Storm.” And then persist.

There must be a deeper reason for pushing your body. Whether it’s mental health, physical health, or something else, you have to be able to tap into your “why” in order to keep going. Otherwise, what are you doing there? What do you have to prove? And to whom?

When I get to the end of the summer, I will be able to look back at all the mountains I climbed, the miles I traveled, and the strength, both physical and mental, that I gained through the season.

I am weak and tired now. But I will persist.

Chuckawalla Wall

I went outside, Utah

img_5353My freshman year of college at Dixie State College, now Dixie State University, a couple boys dragged me and my roommates to Chuckawalla Wall for the first time. It was my first experience with rock climbing. As I strapped on borrowed shoes, while wearing a borrowed harness, I remember spying the bolts at the top and considering the feat I was about to undertake. So when you say, “kiss the bolts,” what does that mean, exactly? I saw the white chalk marks left by previous climbers, marking the handholds that would allow me to scale the wall. I gave it a shot.

I don’t remember if I reached the top on the first try. I probably didn’t, but I do remember successfully completing the climb a number of times, feeling progressively stronger and confident in my ability to scale the wall. Once the girls and I got the hang of climbing the red Navajo sandstone, we couldn’t get enough, even with borrowed shoes, harnesses, and belay devices, and we begged to be taken out to the wall any chance we could get.

After I moved to Sacramento, the accoutrements were purchased; harness, rope, shoes, belay devices, and off I went to the granite slabs of the Sierras with a new climbing partner. It was hard and frustrating, and we quickly gave up. Storing my shoes and harness felt like giving up a dream. Or coming to terms with something that I wanted, but wasn’t meant to be. Even though I was only 19 years old, I mourned my youth, spontaneity, and sense of adventure. I was married and it was time to turn away from childish things.

I would say it’s luck that I hung onto my shoes and harness for 13 years, moving from California to Utah, Alaska, and Washington, but it’s certainly more divine that that. At 33 years old I feel like I’m only now the person I am meant to be. A person who ties perfect figure eight follow-though knots while talking, planning, drinking, and dreaming. The person who packed a measure of 5mm rope on her last work trip to keep her nervous hands busy in the airport.

Luckily I kept the shoes, harness, and belay device, and I’m happy to report they’re in use again. On my last trip to St. George, Utah, I made a quick stop at Chuckawalla for the first time since 2002. All the good memories came flooding back and I nearly cried while watching a fellow yell his way up the wall while his friends below shouted advice and cheered him on. Thank you, Chuckawalla, for the experience and memories, and the determination to get after it again.

img_5354

I’ve been 33 for seven days.

life

Usually, I’d have sat down and hammered out goals and aspirations for the next 12 months by now. What’s a new skill I want to learn? What bad habit will I break? What new place will I travel to? This year has been different.

Me, hiking down from Camp Muir in Mount Rainier National Park.

Me, hiking down from Camp Muir in Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Allison.

Usually, I feel like I have a lot of learning to do. I need a kick in the pants. Some changes need to be made. It’s time to buckle down and focus. It’s not that I don’t, but this year has been different.

This time around, I didn’t wait for landmark dates to make changes, to initiate movement, or strive for a better me.

This time around, when I sat down to hash out next year’s goals, I came up empty. Not because I don’t have any, but because the momentum is already there and the goals are already in place. I don’t have anything new.

Usually, I would say something like, “Go on an adventure.” This time I say, “Have more adventure.” It’s not, “Go someplace new.” It’s, “Keep going.” Usually it’s, “Read 12 books.” This time it’s, “Keep reading what inspires you.”

Sometimes I pick a theme for the year. “Intention” was one, “Adventure” was another. “Solitude,” “Peace,” and “Reflection” were others. They were all chosen to keep me focused on what I needed to be doing, how I should do it, and feelings that I was trying to cultivate in my life.

Me, celebrating on Klahane Ridge, in Olympic National Park. Photo by Allison.

Me, celebrating on Klahane Ridge, in Olympic National Park. Photo by Allison.

“Adventure” seems a good theme for this year, but it doesn’t feel significant enough. This year was a fantastic display of adventure. I did things that I never before thought my body could do. I set adventure goals and I didn’t stop working until I accomplished them. Each tick mark of completion immediately was followed up by the next aspiration.

So, this year “adventure” seems just a little trite. Not quite enough. This year, the theme is “More.”

More expanding my comfort zone.

More organized.

Snow camping at Mount Rainier National Park.

Snow camping at Mount Rainier National Park.

More good food.

More nutrition.

More travel.

More pushing my boundaries.

More meeting people.

More experiences.

More writing.

More exploring.

More photos.

More adventure.

Just more.

Klahhane Ridge

I went outside, washington

My hiking companion and I were very excited to hike Mount Storm King on the Olympic Peninsula overlooking Crescent Lake. Unfortunately, we detoured from our original plan just four miles from the trail head. Instead of slinking home, because who does that, we quickly made a new plan, consulted the ranger, and headed to into Olympic National Park to test out Klahhane Ridge. The day did not disappoint or suck in any way. It was magic.

Kanarraville Falls

I went outside, Utah

I spent the other weekend in Southern Utah, and it reminded me how much I love the Utah desert.

Otherwise known as Kanaraville Creek, this fun little hike features an exposed tromp up and over a little hill into the canyon and through the creek, revealing a surprisingly beautiful and accessible slot canyon.

We saw quite a few people during our trip, especially for a Sunday. We went past the first ladder, but not all the way to the second ladder, as we were concerned about time. But it’s definitely a spot I’ll return to again and again.