Yesterday I went hiking and it was stellar! End of post.
I kid, I kid. (It was stellar though).
This was my first solo hike since last fall and my favorite solo to date! I haven’t done a ton of solo hikes and to be honest it was never something I was super interested in. When I started hiking in 2016 I loved the social part of it – catching up with friends, connecting with old friends who also hiked, meeting people on trail. My outgoing introvert self found it was getting enough alone time that hiking was a great outlet for the social and outgoing side of me.
I think I will always on some level find enjoyment in the social aspect of hiking, perhaps sometimes more than others though. Lately I’m finding myself needing more alone time. This is in part due to lots of shifts going on in life both “externally” and “internally”.
I’ve talked a little bit here and there on the blog about some of the recent changes – graduating college (May 2019) and a new job (early 2019). Not so much has been said about those which are coming, and there are quite a few. The quick list includes: my parents house/childhood home where I’m currently living selling this summer, moving all of my stuff into storage/friends/family, my parents moving into their fifth wheel RV and traveling the US, me taking time off work (SUPER grateful to be able to do this!) to embark on what I’m calling “project create your own adventure”, trying to find an apartment when I wrap up the aforementioned adventure, figuring out the health insurance component now that I’m 26 and my job doesn’t offer it (perks of personal trainer life), starting my own business in the fall, and a few other random things. Life is definitely happening, and I’m excited, stoked, nervous, ready to take things on, etc. all the feels.
With all of this I’m finding my internal environment shifting to craving more solo time, more getting in touch with my inner-self, connecting to my thoughts and goals and plans on a deeper level. The past few weeks have been a bit of a hermit phase. It’s more of a hermit/growth phase simultaneously occurring. Growth from the personal development lens.
There is something so incredibly raw and pure about being in the woods – with or without other people. Add this to being solo and I find it’s a very spiritual connection with nature that I experience.
Hiking, for me, has always been a very spiritual and soul fulfilling activity. I feel so alive and connected to my inner and outer worlds when I’m walking down the trail, looking at trees and wildflowers, listening to birds and the wind. Thoughts flow in and out. I hear and feel my heartbeat. I notice the sound my footsteps make and they fade into the background as I keep walking. Everything becomes very present moment.
One of my favorite aspects of hiking is how much I’ve grown as a human through it and how much I will continue to grow by immersing myself in an environment which helps me break out of my comfort zone, ask big questions, process, and connect – all while feeling supported because I’m doing what I love. It sounds cliché but it’s been my rock per se throughout the past few years and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
So for now I’m going to keep exploring, pushing the comfort boundary, and see where this hermit/growth phase takes me.
“There is something so breathtakingly beautiful about wildflowers. So spontaneous. So unplanned. So unstructured. Just a subtle, raw purity that grows with the rising and setting of the sun.” – Nicole Addison
It’s my birthday weekend (ok, real talk, birthday month). My actual birthday was Friday the 14th but I went for my annual birthday hike on Saturday! I wanted to pick a peak that I’m absolutely head over heels for, which isn’t that difficult because I totally dig the mountains. But, I digress, some peaks are more loved than others.
Insert Zealand Mountain.
Zealand was my 4th hike and 10th summit when I began hiking the NH 48 back in 2016. Zealand was the hike where I distinctly remember choosing to pursue hiking the 48 4000 footers. I blame Zeacliff for it all. You’re pretty much on top of the world, or you feel like it. Here’s a throwback from 2016:
Yesterday marks round four for Zealand, and I still love this hike as much as the first time! I was happy to hike with my friend Kaylee and her pup Brodie again. I’m really working on talking Kaylee into hiking the 48, tee-hee! Wish me luck because Owl’s Head just never sounds appealing!
While the summit itself has no view, Zeacliff, Zealand Falls, and the summit sign 10/10 make up for this. The best summit sign of all the 48 in my humble opinion. I really hope it never changes! Just over here hugging trees… again.
Yesterday’s hike was another mixed bag hike while the mountains transition from Winter to Spring to Summer. While I managed to pull off shorts and a tank all day, we were blessed with a random 5’x5′ patch of snow, lots of muddy goodness, very very large puddles ft. tiny rocks for precise foot placement (or just walk right through), moose poops, and bugs galore.
But really though, the bugs. I’ve never EVER experienced them being this bad. Most definitely got some extra protein yesterday, and even found one in my eye after. Even being doused in picaridin and an essential oil mix didn’t help much. But don’t worry, I rocked a headnet for the last half hour #noshame. The black flies and gnats don’t bug me a ton but horseflies = no thank you. Although Kaylee was definitely NOT a fan. At all. Sorry I subjected you to bug hell yesterday Kaylee – forgive me 😉
Another exciting thing from this hike was I met two AT hikers! One is a NOBO (Northbound) thru hiker and the other a section hiker working on the NH AT section. I love meeting section/thru hikers and talking with them about their experience and favorite parts of the trail!
Every time I head to the mountains lately I just feel this sense of calm. It’s almost in-explainable. Everything is so present moment. My thoughts are present and I’m focused on walking and walking some more. It’s me, the trail, whoever I’m hiking with, and other hikers. While I can choose to process things going on in my life, I’ve found my mindset has shifted to where I almost just subconsciously process and don’t actually think that much while hiking (other than what’s going on during the hike of course!). Trail time just facilitates it automatically.
With the increased sense of being very present-moment minded when hiking, I’ve noticed I tend to notice more of the nature surrounding me. Flowers, birds, butterflies, wildlife, trees, spiderwebs, and little streams in the woods. Things that I may have noticed before but didn’t give much thought to – they now fascinate me and my brain likes to look at them and ponder and I just find myself smiling looking at flowers and trees in the middle of the woods. One thing adventuring into the wilderness has surely taught me is the little things really do matter, they matter a lot, and they influence us in ways we sometimes aren’t even consciously aware of.
The external environment isn’t the only thing I’ve noticed to have an increased awareness of. It’s also how I feel my body moving while I walk. It’s how the rocks feel under my feet and when the trail terrain changes from rockier to dirt I get a smile on my face because it feels cushy. But when I’m faced with a rock scramble I get excited because I love to climb! This whole hiking thing has brought such a sense of awareness to my being – both external and internal.
It’s one of the most, if not the most, grounding feelings I’ve experienced in my life.
And I don’t plan to let go of this feeling anytime soon. Rather, I’m going to pursue the heck out of it. I want to feel it, all of it.
“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.” ― Nancy Newhall
It’s June! Aka, summer is fast approaching, it’s my birthday month, and we are in full gemini season (yeah, I’m a gem’).
Yesterday was another great mountain frolick adventure day in the NH White Mountains. Conditions wise it was everything but the kitchen sink – mud, dry trail, snow, rocks, roots, black flies, mosquito’s, and budding flowers.
Fun fact is Liberty and Flume were my #1 and #2 peaks for the NH 48 4000 footers list. It was great to tag Liberty for round 4 and Flume for round 3! I also hadn’t hiked the 1.5 mile section between the two summits since my first time hiking them as each other time the summits were hiked individually or combined with mountains from other directions! I love being able to meticulously describe trails to people and this was one of the ones escaping my memory as of late so the refresh was welcomed!
Yesterday started off interesting because I initially was going to hike a different mountain but my friend wasn’t feeling great so plot twist at 5:30am. I knew I had other friends doing the Liberty Flume duo and figured “I’m already awake and wanting to hike – why not change plans”!
Off to Franconia Notch I headed.
The trio I hiked with – Kaylee, Kristina, and Brianna. Kaylee and I have been friends for over TWO decades as we met in Kindergarten! Kristina I’ve known most of my life as well but haven’t really seen her since high school. Brianna I just met! Yay to new friends and seeing old ones again 🙂 One of my goals for this year to to meet new hiking friends, so I feel like I directly worked on that goal yesterday and it feels really good inside!
We ditched the idea of the Flume slide with how much water was on the trail for the first segment knowing it would be wet, slippery, and we also had a furry friend with us – Kaylee’s pup Brodie! The hike ended up being an out and back from Whitehouse Trailhead taking Liberty Spring and Franconia Ridge Trail’s.
I love this area of the White Mountains. If you were to ask me my favorite trails, my answer would be “anything bordering/within the Pemi wilderness, the Northern Presidentials, Isolation, and Wildcat-Carter-Moriah”. These areas encompass my all time favorite hikes and will always hold such a special place for my soul.
Yesterday’s hike was surely one full of laughter and ridiculous shenanigans (picking Brodie up to get him onto a rock scramble headed back to Liberty from Flume – he was a’ok going down, but needed a little assistance back up!). Other fun included making sure all four of us got the notorious shot atop Liberty. I give you exhibit A:
These were Kristina’s first two 4000 footers, which is cool because like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, they were mine! Kaylee and Brianna have a handful under their belts and I love that I have so many friends who share my love for hiking and being outside! I’m not sure I could spend hours upon hours with the same humans indoors, but outdoors, I’m fully game and ready to have a blast and a half.
All in all it was wonderful to hike in Northern NH and have it feel mostly like late spring/summer! (I’ve been making the Belknaps my tramping ground for the past month while the potato snow melted)! Don’t get me wrong, I love winter hiking and don’t mind the snow, but this year for whatever reason I’m soooooo beyond over the cold and winter. Yesterday surely excited me even more so for the upcoming “roots and rocks” hiking season!
“I think I’m quite ready for another adventure.” – Bilbo Baggins
Hoping all of you wonderful humans reading this had a great weekend and are having a good week thus far!
I headed North to hike on Sunday with Laura (the Explorer). We frolicked our way up Mt. Jackson and I had some good deja-vu moments of my recent hike up Jackson in November. The difference? Laura and I didn’t have to break through 1-3 feet of snow the entire hike and let me tell you my hips were uber happy about that.
This is my first hike since a jaunt up Mt. Tecumseh December 16th, so a month and a half! Reality check: 1.5 months isn’t THAT long, and there isn’t anything wrong with a break.
It felt really goon on many levels to be back hiking in the mountains. Jackson in particular feels like home a little bit inside as it was my first 4000 footer, and a regularly repeated summit. The more I hike, the more I become in love with the HIKING more than the SUMMITING. Summits are stellar and gorgeous and feels like a pat on the back. But, hiking, the whole process of base to summit, that’s where the magics located.
It feels as if I didn’t even take time off, I think because I love it so much. I was able to just do other things with my time and know that I would get back hiking when the bod was ready and that the world would be ok. Going to use my experience of six stress fractures from mainly my teen years to say how I was able to calmly not fully lose my shit when I could barely walk for two weeks because of the hip in mid-December. I said fully lose, there were most definitely some minor meltdowns sprinkled in.
In a way, this all feels like I’ve been taking an off season per se. This is a topic I’ve been placing some solid mental energy on lately – rest and cycles of rest. As a previous competitive jump-roper that had an off season, a weightlifter that cycled programming and rest weeks, and a biker that heads out for less miles in the winter months than summer – hiking is the thing that wasn’t being cycled. While summer might have more aggressive miles from time to time, winter places different stressors on the body (e.g thermoregulation, the trail warrants different muscles to be utilized, heavier pack, ect.).
If we pull it back a notch:
The moon has phases
There are seasons
Us ladies have cycles
While I feel like a total badass hiking a ton in the winter, I’m choosing to keep it dialed back a level for the next few months. Historically I’ve found where some hikers love and prefer winter hiking, I dig it but my body hates it. I forced it last year and felt sore/pain (in not normal ways) more often than not. And, you know what, doing something that my body doesn’t feel good doing just isn’t worth it for me anymore. Longevity > instant gratification at this point. Total trial and error learning process. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE hiking, thoroughly enjoy pushing my limit and have since I was about 4 years old, and heading to the mountains for the sake of wandering in the forest feels so deeply right… It has changed my life trajectory, provided me so much space for healing, and allowed me to develop a new relationship with my being and grow new friendships. I wouldn’t trade it for the damn world.
And, that’s the thing. Pushing through body signals because I want/need to hike isn’t worth it for me right now. I would rather hike less in the winter and allow my body time to just be a human and sleep a little more, do a little less physically, and then be out in the mountains multiple times a week Spring through Fall, than push push push year-round but always feel sub-par, or get injured and have to take indefinite time off. Been there, done that, over it.
As someone who used to workout 2-3 times a day 6-7 days a week, being able to take a moment and evaluate where I’m at, what my body is telling me, and re-navigate to be able to heal whatever niggle my hip was getting is really awesome. The fact that I used to just push through pain until I ended up with a stress fracture, other injury, or taking time off and subsequently using super unuseful coping mechanisms, and I just took 6 weeks “off” where I spent most of my time working on personal development, other areas of my life, and enjoying some walks and solo yoga sessions (hi, #misophoniaproblems)… Well, it feels really good inside.
Progress is a process but it’s so worth the potholes and speed bumps.
In other news, I rode the bike Monday and yesterday as both days were in the 50’s here in New Hampshire and let me tell you it was magical. Biking was one of the things that seemed to be highly pissing off the hip, and after the last two days I’m happy to report that things are feeling light-years better than mid-December, but there’s still a niggle and that’s my cue to dig a little deeper into what’s really going on.
What’s “cooler” than being able to hike and bike is that I’m not finding myself in a position where I feel like I need to do them all the time right now. I enjoy both… they bring me joy, smiles, friendships, understanding, and fulfillment. No longer do I need to work out obsessively, do all the things all the time, or be a badass as a means to make myself feel better.
I’m finding more and more that my intentions for my life are shifting. The shift in a way parallels what I’ve been actively doing or taking action on the past couple of years but I’m now feeling it, gravitating towards it, pursuing it.
My primary intention is to live in a way which supports my being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Yeah, that means I forfeit or give up or sacrifice some winter hikes, winter bikes, hours which could be spent being “productive” for sleep, eating a little more when I’m hungry because I realize it’s my tendency to under eat when stressed, do all the self-care when my mindset is there and accept that it’s totally kosher when I need a nap to escape the world or need two therapy sessions in a week to not explode internally.
The whole personal growth game ain’t always sunshine and rainbows.
Moving from a fear-based, emotionally driven, auto-pilot way of living to a place where intention, mental space, overall health, and healing are the main focus – IT IS INCREDIBLY TERRIFYING.
Realizing this – the fear behind changing my ways in order to support myself vs. support my fears, to adapt and accept, to just go with what feels good and ditch what needs to be ditched for now as now doesn’t equal forever.
It feels a lot like past experiences.
IT IS TERRIFYING to adapt and accept, to ebb and flow.
But, with this experience right now I’m reminding myself that I’m in remission from an eating disorder, I got my period back naturally after losing it for three years, I competed in jump rope with hip dysplasia, I almost have a college degree with misophonia where my main trigger is typing.
I’m going to keep keeping on and keep keeping it real.
Life can suck.
It can also be incredible amazing.
Sometimes, these are just facts, and other times… it’s how we view the hand we’ve been dealt during a certain time.
My currently reality doesn’t equal my worth, it doesn’t mean I can’t hike this summer which historically goes much much much better than winter, and it certainty doesn’t mean I can’t look at the positives of not being able to do what I love as much as I’d prefer to.
It just is.
I respect myself enough at this point in my life to understand and accept that it just is what it is and to work with this.
Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” — Robert Holden