This post is different from my normal ones. It’s not organized, or a story, or a hike recap. Simply, this post is my thoughts. A topic that has been on my mind lately, and one I’ve been attributing much mental energy to, is space. Specifically, our human space and existence. I’m using this post as a sounding board if you will.
Take up space.
Own your space.
Embrace your space.
Stop making yourself small.
Stop minimizing your worth, your being, your existence.
You’re existence has a purpose.
Honor that. Honor the universe.
The dust and particles which comprise your being.
They have purpose. You were created by the universe.
Take up the space the world handed you.
Grow and cultivate your being in this space.
You have permission.
Embrace all of your fears, insecurities, internal and external ‘flaws’.
Are you surprised to see I went hiking yesterday? No? Ok, good because I’m not.
Lawn and I decided to embark on an interesting adventure of trail-breaking 6-24″ of fresh powdery snow up (and down) Mt. Jackson! The White Mountains are surely living up to their name as of late, with the snow just seeming to keep on falling and piling up the accumulation total. It’s not even technically Winter yet, and this is the most “wintery” hike I’ve done to date. The sheer amount of snow we witnessed yesterday was mind-boggling and a total blast all wrapped in one.
Meanwhile, down here on the Seacoast I’m looking forward to a 40 degree Sunny day tomorrow and taking my bike our for an hour or more! There is snow here too, but maybe a 20th of what currently exists up North.
I’m honestly rather stoked about all of the snow because it means snowboarding season is here and I’m super looking forward to riding next week! As a previous “winter hater”, I must say, I’m already digging this one and I still have three weeks until the season even begins!
Hike details: Mt. Jackson, NH. 5.2 miles and 2,150 ft. elevation gain via the Webster-Jackson Trail.
The book-time for this hike runs around 3:40, a time I’ve substantially “beat” each time I’ve previously hiked this peak. Yesterday was different, quite different. I think there should be a snowshoe through 2 feet of fresh snow book time. I kid, I kid. Kind of. As Lawn put it, the two of us likely set a record for “slowest known time”. And you know what, it was the most interesting/exciting winter hike to date.
It was a full snowshoe day, alike the hike of Mt. Cabot last Saturday. The only difference is last week there was maybe an inch or two of powdery snow on the trail at times and the snowshoes were primarily for traction/not post-holing whereas this hike they were essential for walking in general.
I really am finding myself enjoying snowshoeing and am even looking at running a snowshoe race this Winter! Hiker Dad recently bought some running snowshoes and I’m excited to give them a whirl. Don’t you all worry, I’ll recap this and report back on how many times I fall over 😉
We initially expected to reach the summit by 1:30pm, but soon realized this was just not happening. With increasing elevation came increasing amounts of snow to pack down. It honestly amazes me how much snow there currently is in the mountains. I’m not sure I saw this much last winter ever… never-mind before it was December. The first mile and change was fairly consistent pace wise.
Following a junction where it splits for Mt. Jackson summit or Mt. Webster summit is when we began to find increased snow amounts and a more inconsistent pace. Trail breaking is HARD work, and this is especially true when it’s two 105ish lb humans doing the work, one of which who is 5’0″! While only a 5.2 mile hike it felt more like 10 by the end of the day. After the junction we knew we weren’t hitting our 1:30 guesstimate as it was fast approaching this time with 1.4 miles to go. We loosely picked a turn-around time of 2:00pm as we both had headlamps with us and knew the last 3/4 mile or so on the way down was relatively flat.
2:00 hit and we found ourselves with approximately a half mile remaining. After a few minutes of debating we choose to go until 2:30 and re-evaluate if we hadn’t reached the summit by this point. The amount of time this hike took is very humbling to me. I know I (and Lawn) are good and strong hikers, so it was mildly unexpected but also not. The constant motion of snowshoeing through deep snow isn’t only leg muscle taxing but it gets your heart rate high. I personally found I could easily ignore the leg muscles but just struggled with breathing at a normal rate which then threw me off.
At this point of 2pm onward Lawn was doing the first pass of trail breaking and I was trekking behind while working to step on the tail of her snowshoe path so that my tail would pack down the powder hers missed so we had a smoother track headed down. Her 7ish inches of height on me seemed to be useful?!
Right around 2:30 we hit a section very close to the summit and found 20-24″ of snow and proceeded to have a grand time trying to get up some rock sections. Pro tip: if you’re 5’0″, send tall friend up first and then have them help you up 😉
At this point we called it good. We were happy to have our “summit” for the day as that last section likely would have taken a considerable amount of time for the short distance that it was. We took some pictures of the stellar views aka snow covered trees and headed down to a spot which was denser with trees where we stopped to add a layer, grab hand-warmers, and drink some water.
Hiking down in the fluffy snow is a true blast. You step, slide a bit, and repeat. Snowshoe skiing if you will. It’s also much much faster than step, lift leg up a foot, repeat.
Mental note to self for future reference: it feels lighter than it really is in the woods when it’s so snowy.
All the white counteracts the darker sky as when we finished it seemed much darker than when we were on trail a few minutes prior. We also noted just how quickly it went from dusk to dark – legit under a half hour. While we could have reached the summit and added 30 or so minutes to the hike, I think we were both happy with our decision and also happy to reach the car before it was truly dark outside.
Overall, I’m beyond happy Lawn and I got outside yesterday and explored this snowy peak. Winter has always been the least comfortable hiking season for me, mainly because of getting cold easily and the fears associated with that. This hike was a good comfort zone tester and pusher – it let me see how I react to modifying turn-around times, deep snow, it getting dark in the Winter and still on trail, ect. As we head into the true Winter hiking season, I’m happy to have this hike under my belt.
“Come. Come with your light. Your shadow. Soft curves and sharp edges. I will show you the beauty of you, in all that you are. Come with your steady breath. Your shaky breath. Your messy movements. Your courage to try again. The key to practice is just keep showing up. Come with your highs. Come with your lows. The mountain you’ve climbed. The mountain you’re carrying. Just as you are.”
This quote/concept has been on my mind lately. A LOT.
Taking this concept and looking at it broadly, I agree completely. On the level of how one handles themselves with both small and big things. How information gets processed. What the outlook on life looks like as a result of the latter.
I’m naturally an over-stressed, over-thinking, attempt to do-it-all human. Pressing the pause button feels a little weird and uneasy. It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. THAT, that right there is the key to why I’m over-stressed, over-thinking, trying to take on the whole damn world in ways that simply aren’t meant for me.
I never fully understood this until very recently. In a sense, I knew that the fear of not doing enough was a key driver in my attempt to do everything, to keep saying “yes”, and as a result of those – a red-handed culprit when examining sources for anxiety and other unwanted mental feels. What I didn’t realize was that the fear of not doing enough directly translated to not being enough.
Making this connection has allowed me to deeply examine each component of my life, big and small, taking into consideration the following questions: 1. WHY is this in my life, 2. how does it really make me feel (not just how I present to society how it makes me feel… rather in the core of my being), 3. what positive/negative attributes does it provide for my current and future life, and 4. do I want to keep it in my life? Simply put, if my answer is: it creates stress for X, Y, Z reason, I continue to partake in it out of fear that I’ll be thought of differently (from others, not how I think about myself), and it isn’t something that I find beneficial or needed for my future self – well… it needs to get kicked out the door.
I’ve realized that no matter what I do, how much I do, or how well I do something – I still will not be approved from everyone in every area of my life. Doing everything doesn’t equal success or happiness or fulfillment. Doing, creating, partaking in the things which light my soul on fire and feel absolutely stellar AF internally are the things I’m actively seeking to keep part of and add to my life because these are what create a sense of fulfillment and connection both to myself and to the broader world.
What are my two-cents? Be honest with yourself about what makes you feel fulfilled, successful, and connected. Include ALL of that in your life because even if it’s a lot – anything you deeply find purposeful will always find a way to be fit into the puzzle of “but there are only 24 hours in a day”. Ditch as much as possible that doesn’t lead to your feeling good about yourself and your existence. We get a small fraction of time on this planet, actively pursue YOUR life/goals/ambitions/manifestations not your neighbors/friends/sisters/fathers. It’s a process to disentangle the WHY behind your actions, but it’s a process entirely worth undertaking.
Figure out you, work on you, and then take over the part of the world that you want to contribute your time and energy to.
“Don’t worry about other people, wear your happiness on your skin. Be proud of what you have built. It only has to make sense to you.” – R.m Drake