My hands clasp around the cool rock. I shuffle along the ledge pushing and pulling on hand holds to maintain my balance. I wedge my way up the rock, feeling the airiness of the steep drops below me. As I crest the crux, the morning sun greets me. Turning my head towards the sun I close my eyes and bask in the early morning light. My climbing partner and I sit perched on the top of a mountain and greet the day. Life simply doesn’t get much better.
If you had asked me five years ago if clinging to the side of a mountain would be my idea of a good time, I would have laughed at you, I’m afraid of heights. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had an adventurous soul. At age 18 I backpacked across Western Europe. I’ve lived in South East Asia, taken local transportation across the exotic islands of Indonesia, trekked through the jungles of Peru, road tripped through Mongolia and slept on the couches of gracious strangers.
I was born an explorer, and after decades of everyone around me trying to redirect my adventurous spirit, I turned to the outdoors. I had dabbled in my younger years and knew the basics of backpacking, camping, hiking and rock climbing. What I didn’t realize that what started as a simple hobby would turn into a full-blown obsession that would drive the trajectory of my life. Here’s why I get outside…
…To Rise to the Challenge
Nothing more in this world has taught me more about my capabilities as a person than getting outdoors. Winter mountaineering has taught me more about my mental toughness than any other activity I’ve endured. The effort involved to stand on the top of a mountain in winter often involves a deep mental struggle to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Through that struggle, the mind finds calm. All goes quiet and all that’s there is you and the mountain.
…To Go Where Few People Venture
Nothing says, “let’s do it” more to me than gaining over 1,000 vertical feet in less than a mile with my house on my back. I love to explore areas where not many people venture. When you combine the challenge with a remote setting I’m game. Maybe it’s my adventurous heart, or perhaps I’m simply wired differently, but I love to get outside and be in a place where few people dare to go. Bonus points if I get to sleep there.
…For that Epic View
It doesn’t matter if it’s Horseshoe Bend, or a remote mountain pass in the Rockies, I’m a sucker for a killer view. It opens my mind, humbles my soul, and fulfills me in a way nothing else can. The shadows of the sun, the way the air smells, the sound of your feet on the ground and 365-degrees of pure natural beauty both grounds me and lifts me out of my body. I’m both big and small. There’s no other feeling quite like it.
… Because My Tribe is a Strange Breed
Let’s face it: it takes a special kind of person to wake up on a Saturday before dawn and subject yourself to intense physical activity. But those strange misfits are my people and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We would rather spend time sipping a beverage by a campfire with dirty fingernails then being at the newest restaurant in town. There’s nothing like a good laugh about a tough day in the backcountry. We are there for one another when the going gets tough, both on and off the trail. We come from different walks of life but we are all united by our passion for spending time in the wild.
The outdoors offers the chance to connect with yourself and your surroundings in a way that the every day simply cannot. It not only shows us our own strength, but it builds community under jaw-dropping settings.