Grab a coffee (or tea), sit down, and get ready to read and look at pretty pictures of mountains. This is a long one.
Ugh, guys, I have so many feels right now. Well, not specifically RIGHT.THIS.EXACT.MOMENT, but lately.
Why, you might ask? So many exciting and new things going on in this so called game of life and I’m just uber digging it. And, I feel weird to say I’m uber digging the life game, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve said that and meant it. In fact, it feels so weird that I’ve purposefully been quite absent on all forms of social media and even in real life recently because my brain has needed some major space for processing and not having a meltdown over sheer excitement/being stoked.
You see, I have this tendency to get super uppity and happy about things and then almost wear myself out on the idea and find myself running into a brick wall, losing interest and becoming, well, kind of in the dumps from an emotional perspective. Blaming that I’m a Gemini? Maybe. Blaming that I’m simply a feeler of all things and that I need to really feel and process things but rarely give myself the light of day for the ladder? More likely (but being a Gem’ prob isn’t super helpful. Kidding, kind of.).
Anyways. I’ve given myself space to just feel things. Space to take a step back and remember why I am going after all that I’m pursuing. Why it’s even important to me as a human in the first place. I’m allowing myself space to think, process, and fall back in love with my dreams, goals, and most importantly – my life. I feel that by letting go of the “shoulds” I had previously set for myself regarding school, a career, and even just how my life looked on the outside has proven beneficial in me feeling much more grounded and even productive. I’m half winging it and half going with what I know deep down to be my path? And, honestly, it has actually been a really neat (and semi terrifying) process.
What have I been up to during my intentional hiatus? I finished the NH 48 4000 footers (more on this below!), I got into a dual-degree program and am now simultaneously an undergrad (psych) and grad (nutritional sci) student, I’ve accepted a position for independent contract work to take over a bootcamp program hosted through a local CrossFit, this blog is no longer .wordpress.com but rather .com (YASSSSSS), and oh – I’ve been taking care of myself and honoring my unique quirky needs physically/mentally/emotionally and it’s been rather rad.
“She remembered who she was and the game changed” – Lalah Delia
Let’s talk mountains, before I get all emotionally sappy on you.
Hands down my favorite hike to date. Isolation is my second love.
Our (Amanda (Pan) and I) approach was to out and back from Zealand Rd. making the trip 19.8 miles and 4,850 ft. elevation gain. Yippee.
We started off from Zealand Rd. at the Zealand Trail trailhead. The first 2.5 mile chunk of this hike is pancake flat (okay, there are rocks and roots, I admit). This brings you up to the Zealand Falls hut which we made a quick pit stop at to pee and take off a layer as the morning was a nippy one and took a bit to get warmed up! From here, we continued up to the first summit of the day – Zealand Mountain. Zealand has a special place in my heart as this was my first 4k back after my injury (I’ll delve into this more). At this point I felt really good, looking forward to tackling the many miles ahead and happy to be frolicking in the middle of nowhere with Pan.
Between Zealand and Guyot went by rather quick and let me tell you the views from Guyot had me giddy for what was to come. I was also mildly excited for the champagne Pan brought along to celebrate my finish on Bondcliff (the final peak for the day), and getting the epic Bondcliff clif shot. We continued, onward, upward, and a solid amount of downward. The third peak was West Bond. West Bond isn’t on the out and back hike per se, but is a small (0.5 mi) spur trail off of the trail between Guyot and Mt. Bond. OKAY, West Bond is probably my favorite of the Bond trio because it’s 1. GORGEOUS, and 2. off the beaten path unlike the others and therefore gives off a much more secluded wilderness vibe.
After a snack and photo op we headed back to the main trail and continued our walk to Mt. Bond. It was at this moment of sumitting that I made the slightly awkward to Pan (and extremely awkward on my blog) statement that I was 98.5% sure mother nature just blessed me with that monthly present (TMI? Sorry not sorry… My website 😉 ). I had feels it was coming, and after having been blessed with it on Owls’ head (the second longest 4K hike, I pretty much knew I was in for it on the Bonds). We quickly left the Bond summit and headed to Bondcliff via a detour in the middle of the woods to, ya know, deal with feminine things and jazz. THANKFULLY nobody else was super close by at this point. Hands down honest, I wasn’t even mad or annoyed about it. Like, yeah, it’s a hassle but after losing my cycle for three years due to complications from my eating disorder, getting it on my last 4K hike almost seemed like it was meant to happen, kind of like a sign that I am “doing things right” for myself, my body, and my life.
Once at Bondcliff we broke out (popped) the champagne and had a series of photo-ops and random “ahhhhhhh” moments of finishing the list. The whole thing was surreal and kind of felt like a dream but also so real. I think part of me felt I would never finish. And, I think finishing was the ultimate icing on the cake for proving to myself that I can in-fact accomplish challenging aspirations. Admittedly, we hung around at Bondcliff longer than anticipated and once finally moving and grooving again we decided to book it as we wanted to be back to the hut and therefore onto the flatter miles by dark. Besides a few stops to pee, layer swap, and take way too many pictures of endless mountains, we made good time back and were at the hut just after sunset. I do enjoy hiking in the dark, it’s such a different ballgame and really allows you to experience the outside world. All in all the Bonds were a mix of everything and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
This hike has surely been a long time coming after dealing with a stress fractured fibula in April 2017. That was my first stress fracture since 2012 and a big smack in the face. I didn’t see it coming, at all. In hindsight, I was running too frequently for my body and therefore going beyond my body’s ability to adapt and recover from the breakdown I was putting it through. Healing this injury took more mentally than it did physically as I had at this point completed 27/48 4K’s and was legit head over heels for hiking. I felt extremely uncomfortable, unsure of how to manage the mass of internal dialogue, and anxious to get back to hiking. Having dealt with similar injuries prior and not fully healing them or myself I knew that I needed to actually FULLY heal before getting back to hiking to ensure I could continue this newfound love of mine for years/decades/the rest of my life.
I didn’t “plan” to talk about that injury in this post, but it kind of flowed in. And, to be honest, it’s the first injury I didn’t subsequently relapse after and I think that’s actually a big f*cking deal and it’s something to be talked about. I think it shows 1. how much I’ve grown into myself, 2. how much I truly LOVE hiking and outdoor adventuring, and 3. how #2 aided in the development of #1.
Throughout my journey of hiking the 4000 footers from July 2016-September 2018:
I have stress fractured a fibula and healed it. Changed my college major. Applied to and have started graduate school (noting that for a hot minute I was convinced I needed to stop school because my mental health plummeted last Spring SUBSTANTIALLY). Accepted a position that scares the shiiiiiit out of me, but that I’m tackling because it’s so incredibly the right move for ME. Reduced the amount of time I spend inside the gym lifting and increased the amount I spend outside hiking, biking, running. Took up new hobbies such as indoor rock climbing (outdoor soon?!) and trail/gravel biking. Developed a better relationship with my being around body-image, self-awareness, my internal voice, and just how I approach things.
It changes you, hiking 48 mountains. Not so secretly, I’ve repeated so many that I’m now at 87 NH 4K summits!!!!!!! I randomly counted the other day and was half floored. It’s not even that many, in the grand scheme, but looking back to the girl that was extremely lost, confused, unsure if she could actually seriously make it in the world before this journey – those 87 summits mean something. They mean a lot of somethings.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect. But, I found something that has not once made me feel like I need to be perfect, or have my life together, or never make a mistake. I have found something that is equally healing and challenging. Hiking has pushed me in ways I have never been pushed and allowed me to cultivate skills that I’m not sure I would have otherwise ever learned. It has brought amazing people into my life who I’m beyond grateful to call friends, provided me a gateway to grow in other domains of my life, and allowed me space to think and feel and process. Two years and two months after the start of this journey, I can firmly state that hiking is absolutely my jam.
“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” – Rumi