It's been nearly a year since I last posted. Yes, nearly another whole, entire year has adventured past, all without a story to share. It's not that there haven't been stories to tell, it's more along the lines of having far too many brewing inside all at once that the right words just haven't been able to make their way out. In the time since I completed my 52 Hike Challenge and last posted, I've relocated from the deserts of New Mexico to the arctic chill of Alaska, have begun two new jobs, have said goodbye to several loved ones, have been pounding away at graduate school, have broken a few bones, have since healed, and have of course- had adventures! My life has changed tremendously in such a short amount of time, and yet, that rhythm of adventure keeps holding a strong, steady beat.
Of the stories that have been brewing inside me for quite sometime, my July 2017 adventure along a portion of the Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming is the one I have felt most eager to share.
For this trip, I was invited to be a part of a team of five women, selected by The Wyoming Department of Tourism to backpack a section of the Continental Divide Trail. While on the trail, the #ThatsWY crew captured the essence of our shared experience through video footage and interviews, but of course, something deeper always remains. My personal meaning of Wyoming, and that of the Continental Divide Trail, has lingered far beyond our time spent there . . . for this nearly whole, entire year in fact! Like all great adventures, that meaning is a living, beating, feeling that I would like to share with you now.
So what does Wyoming mean to me? It’s the uncrowded peacefulness of quiet, forested trails. It’s the shared laughter of new friends brought together for an adventure of a lifetime. It’s finding the internal power to climb farther and higher than I ever thought possible. And it’s standing side-by-side on the summit; feeling just as beautiful and mighty as the wide sweeping views all around.
For me, Wyoming was the refreshing escape that prepared me for stepping right back into my off-trail life with the same courage and strength required by the Continental Divide Trail. While exploring through so much openness, Wyoming showed me that who I am is tiny, yet is also so much more enormously large and impactful than I ever previously believed. Wyoming is simple, and stunning, and soothes; and because of this land and these people, I now know those beautiful parts within myself too.
Go discover all that Wyoming could mean to you at: : www.travelwyoming.com
And for a little more adventure inspiration, checkout this short video of our Hike Like A Woman on the Wyoming Continental Divide Trail experience here: www.travelwyoming.com/hike-like-a-woman
Well, I DID IT!
On the morning of June 18, 2017, I completed my 52 Hike Challenge, a bit ahead of schedule and in the absolute most perfectly unpredictable way possible. For weeks I had been nervously anticipating the end of this simple, yet most personally enriching, year of my life yet.... Would I really finish all 52 hikes in time? How do I even get this shit done with work & school & the whole rest of life?? What will my final hike be? How do I make that moment meaningful?? As it turns out, I did complete in time- well ahead of schedule in fact & that hike that I chose to end on completely chose me.
My final hike was based in Fort Collins, CO- A town I absolutely adore, yet hadn't set foot in since moving away over 4 years ago. I had been planning a return visit, but nearly canceled following an entire month of constant life upheaval. Yet, even with the changes and endings and compounding disappointments, I found those trails calling me home even louder than before. Like every steep incline & every sudden storm, I chose to push on, knowing that I am fully prepared to face these challenges, as well as whatever else lies ahead. What I found at the top of this epic adventure was 4 full days of the greatest hiking & new friend memories I have had in a very long time!
This trip that I almost never took, this homecoming, was unknowingly the closure I hadn't allowed myself to have before & the reboot I needed to carry on wherever it is that this life path leads. My final trail, Horsetooth Rock, had been a favorite of mine for over a decade & as I sat atop it all alone in all of its power & freedom, I felt only the greatest possible love for this town, its people, and most importantly, myself.
Just week prior to hike #52, this trail & these experiences were not at all even an idea on my expected route. But in the end, they were the most perfect & necessary things possible. If all I ever manage to do in life is compassionately convince you to bounce back & continue along your life's stormy, unexpected adventure, please let me do that. It's time to find the beauty in the brokenness, the magic in the madness, and the peace in the pieces.
Thank you so much for cheering on my constant life ridiculousness! I hope you know you've sat on each of these gusty mountain perches right along side me & supported every single boot step along the way. Now to feel out what adventure the coming year has calling . . .
SO MUCH can happen in just 2 short months! Here's a glimpse of my past 2 on the 52 Hike Challenge =
14 more hikes gathered
3 multi-state road-trips in 1 resilient car
4 separate states adventured in
snow up to my waist at times & desert heat over 106 degrees
2 familiar favorites & many more new discoveries
. . . and ONLY 6 MORE HIKES LEFT TO GO!
It's hard to believe this adventure is about to end, yet I have an unrelentingly wonderful feeling that the TRUE, underlying adventure of it all is just now about to begin!
For more information on the hikes seen here, visit the Year 1 log, or join AIO on Facebook.
Wow, these adventures are just flying right by! Two more months have passed, and 6 more hikes have been added to my 52 Hike Challenge collection!
When I started this process in August, I intended to complete the entire year solo, but as it turns out, these trails have led me an entirely different direction! From forming awesome trail-buddy friendships, to connecting with fellow adventurers from near and far, to unexpectedly re-envisioning my ENTIRE life path, these past 7 months have been incredible!
I have a total of 20 more hikes to go before I complete the challenge, and am pretty sure these last remaining trails will be the best ones yet! So, here I am, open & ready for the adventure to show me the way this time & ever so excited to embrace all that is waiting at the end!
Yesterday for my 35th birthday, I celebrated by doing every single thing I wanted to do last year, but didn't. Last year I let a relationship take priority and allowed someone else to own the day. . . my day. Sure, it was fine and all, but it wasn't me. A year makes a mountain of difference, and as it turns out, a birthday spent alone really only sucks if you do.
Step 1: Pack a slice of cake to-go, then toss in a little fun! Sure your cake might get smashed to bits riding along in your pack all day, but trust me, it will taste even better that way!
Step Step 2: Fill a baggie with frosting, then snip the end with scissors before you leave home. This will make building your cake easier once you've reached your mountainside celebration spot. This option also adds less bulk to your pack and is far more forgiving of trail mishaps.
Step 3: Wander off to your happy place. This is mine- Kitchen Mesa Trail at the Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center, located in Abiquiu, NM.
Step 4: Assemble the moment. Then listen carefully as the birds, the wind, and the subtle creature sounds sing you nature's rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song.
Step 5: Wish for nothing more than the beauty all around.
Step 6: Then enjoy your day and this whole entire new year to come!
Just days after the start of this great new year, I hit the halfway point on my 52 Hike Challenge!
At 26 hikes in, for me this means:
All of this while working full-time & attending graduate school full-time too! Yes, truly LIVING can be done, even with all the demands the rest of life serves us. But even greater than myown adventure recap, is the announcement that we've had another new member commit to her own year-long adventure, and many more actively following along!
So, what is it YOU will do with this one wild & ridiculous new year? Consider joining and celebrating all of your great adventures with us too!
2016 was absolutely the most alive year I have ever experienced. Yes, it was tough, as all years are. I ended a relationship, grieved the deaths of several young patients and one very special family member, and questioned my life's direction a million times over.
365 days is a very long time to expect all to go right, and to be truly alive means far more than to go about your days blissfully unaffected. Who among us would really wants to spend an entire year not feeling, not being challenged, not understanding any deeper truths?
So thank you 2016. You brought me tremendous freedom, tons of travel, fantastic reconnections with friends, family, and colleagues, and through the hardships that came, you reinforced just how important all these winding trails & ridiculous solo adventures are in keeping me sane.
Now to invite our sun to formally set on this chapter, with my favorite sunset picture from this whole entire year. The picture above was captures on a trip to the FL Keys in May 2016... Thousands of miles away and just days after the ended relationship and my decision to decline a wonderful new job offer; both of which just didn't feel right. Proving yet again that beauty doesn't stop existing when things get challenging, it's always available to us, if we choose to tune in to it.
Wishes of love, warmth, beauty & adventure to you all! Happy New Year!
Month 4 took me on an incredible solo hiking and camping adventure into Grand Canyon National Park for the Thanksgiving holiday. While there, I filled my days with dusty, glorious trails, and my nights with campfire-made hot toddies and endless sky stargazing. This short trip has made a huge impact, both challenging and inspiring me in powerful ways that only the canyon can. I may have just 34 more hikes left on my 52 Hike Challenge, but I surely have a lifetime of equally grand adventures to come beyond that!
Next week Adventures in Oneyearland will be heading off for a Thanksgiving adventure in
Grand Canyon National Park!
Where will you be spending your day of thanks? What will you choose to give your time, attention & energy to? Will you be defined by rules, rebellion, or the limitations of distance & pant seams? Make the day an expression of that which you are truly thankful for, and as you sit around the family table, don't forget to leave some space for Mother Nature.
Above: A glimpse of visit #1 to the Grand Canyon on Christmas morning 2015.
October is perhaps the greatest possible hiking month of them all . . . the leaves, the crispness in the air, the return of your favorite layers and autumn flavored treats. And yet, this October I managed only one great escape; a measly urban adventure just blocks away from my downtown home.
Why all this trail avoidance? Well, this year, the shift in seasons also brought with it the long enduring storm know as GRADUATE SCHOOL. While already working full-time in a clinical practice, I had the great idea that now would be an excellent opportunity to finally pursue the master’s degree I’ve dreamed of for years. Last month I officially embarked on this grad school journey, which truly will be a great adventure in itself. Needless to say, with full-time work and full-time school, I’m full-time swamped. The days of far away drives and weekends spent in awe are gone, and I’m definitely feeling the growing pains.
I’ve neglected the commitment I made to the trails, and in a whole lot of ways, I’ve neglected myself too. For a class assignment this week, I was required to complete a personality test. This test was designed to show the strengths and learning preferences each test taker possesses. The results of this assessment by far determined that I am a nature-based learner, and that I learn best through the incorporation of outdoor activities . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . especially hiking! And yet, there I was- tethered down to my computer, learning these things that I already so innately know to be true, rather than rolling my boots through a crunchy leaf-covered path with the autumn sun warming my heart.
This strength in nature, also came with a strong tendency away from “strength in numbers;" reaffirming instead my inclination towards meditation, reflection, and mindfulness practices. This is no surprise, especially since hiking for me has such a strong mindfulness component. The trail has always been my teacher; constantly introducing my senses, systems, and thoughts to new information and experiences. It has always been my trusted colleague; able to hear me rehash the day, an encounter, a presentation, or an inspired thought, all without judgment or constraint. Over time, the trail has also become my microscope; allowing me to strip away the macro excess and focus minutely on the importance of an innovative idea, the details of a relationship, and the finely pointed direction of my life’s journey.
Even as I write this, I have an urge of guilt for not spending this time more wisely; for not embracing the last bits of autumn that is otherwise sweeping me by, and even more so, for not focusing my written attention towards the next grad school assignment that will be due in just a few short days. And yet, the irony of ironies is that this upcoming assignment is on the topic of the fundamental importance of PLAY. Yes, PLAY; that very thing that I have held myself back from for this entire month, and the very thing that often gets pushed aside whenever we become pinched for time or resources.
So the assignment I have decided to give myself for next month, is to break free from theory and cognitive pursuits and get back to the practice of full-living adventure. I need to play. I need to be in the great outdoors. And based on my assessment, it looks like I may be able to learn even more because of it! Of course I will continue to work and study, these components cannot be shut out of life either. But rather than living in extremes, I will aim to invite more balance into each week, and more play into each day.
Comment below to share how you build adventure into your busy week.
At Adventures in Oneyearland, you don't need to be a pro to have a passion for the great outdoors, all you need is a plan to get you there.