I hope you’re all having a stellar week so far. Mine has actually been rather low key, which, if you know me in real life, this is typically far from my M.O. To be honest, while it feels completely out of my element and I keep having moments of “I must be missing something” or “what did I forget to do”, it’s been very much welcomed.
I’m not the person who is “good” at enjoying a mellow day, relaxing, spending ample hours at home with nothing on my to-do list. I’m go go go, always looking ahead at the next thing on my agenda or preparing myself for something. I’ve purposefully avoided many lull moments out of fear of not being able to handle them. For me, sitting around all day with nothing to do is EXTREMELY stressful. My brain just bounces around, thinking it needs to be doing something when in reality I’d like it to just shut up. I feel edgy, antsy, uncertain. I try to find things to do, but then realize that nothing actually needs to be done, I’m caught up, everything is under control. It’s weird.
It’s a good change of pace for myself, and it surely is testing me in ways I’m not used to. I’ve been almost craving some mellow time for a while even though I knew it would make me angsty. I think I knew the benefits would outweigh potential risks and as a psych person I’m all about that risk benefit analysis. Insert nerd emoji.
What do I mean by the benefits outweighing the risks as they pertain to me giving myself and my brain some time to simply chill? I’m becoming quite a fan of challenging myself these days, but not in ways I’m used to or even comfortable with for that matter. For me, physically challenging myself is normal. Taking an extra class or taking on another project is normal. Working multiple jobs during school is normal. Saying yes is normal. Opting out of sleep for the sake of having higher productivity and work completion or waking up at 3am to hike is normal. I’m good with these forms of challenge. But, challenging myself to take a step back and allow my being a break is not a normal form of challenge – which is exactly why I’m doing it.
Historically when I’ve taking a “break”, it was faaaaaaar from what most of society would consider a break. And, you know what, that’s okay. It worked for me. That said, I’m at a place in my life where I want to keep testing my comfort zones because many of them have been set in place as protective measures and I realize that for personal development and self-growth to occur, I need to explore these boundary zones if you will.
For a while now I’ve felt this internal nudge to just do something radical in my life. Something different than my usual M.O. Now, I’m not calling a mellow weekend and half of a week radical, but it’s a beginning. Progress is a process my friends, and the journey is often what counts the most. For the time being, I’m testing a lot of my current life, trying to find my edges and sharp spots… the things which make me push back and crawl into the safety of things which I have defined to be okay.
In a way, I’m letting go of the power that I’ve felt I needed to have for so long. I’m letting go of the control, or trying to. I’m a work in progress as we all are – constantly evolving and figuring out where I’m headed. In a bizarre way, it’s actually super cool. I feel like I have a better grasp on things right now even though I feel rather uneasy about a handful of life things. Almost as if by letting go, I’m giving myself permission to go and do whatever makes my soul happy versus what makes my ego and comfort zone happy.
So, what I have been up to since Friday (when this entire fiasco began): ample mental journaling and buying a new notebook because I want to start writing my thoughts down again and see where it takes me, two trail runs, a walk around a local park (which I opted to do instead of my pre-planned bike… *pats self on shoulder*), skipped class to sleep (don’t worry I have a 98 the world won’t end), listened to a handful of personal development podcasts, worked a chunk of hours with a space-heater next to me the entire time (hello winter in New Hampshire), posted things on Poshmark because minimizing, taken a handful of naps, and have tried to give my brain space to process some big decisions.
And you know what, I haven’t spontaneously combusted… yet 😉
“If you want your life to be a magnificent story Then begin by realizing that you are the author…” ― Mark Houlahan
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
I hope everyone had a stellar weekend! Mine was actually fantastic relatively speaking. I went hiking Saturday and just hung around yesterday and actually did some school work which hasn’t happened that frequently or successfully this semester. Baby steps.
I think hiking three mountains and 13.7 miles definitely helped the whole being productive thing. That likely sounds opposite to what most people would expect. But for me, right now, the more I physically exhaust myself the better off I tend to function mentally. Also, spending an entire day out in the middle of nowhere is really soothing for my being.
I wrote this post yesterday but just finished my workout and am reading it over before hitting publish.
Sharing today’s short and sweet workout:
Row 1000 meters, tire flip x 10, row 800m, tire flip x 8, row 600m, tire flip x 6, row 400m, tire flip x 4, row 200m, tire flip x 2
On that note, let’s talk the hike yesterday… I’m committed to writing these recaps!
The mountains: Middle Carter, South Carter, and Mt. Hight – these are all part of the Carter-Moriah Range, which is the range directly east of the Presidentials (aka the views are bomb). While these are all well over 4000 ft., only Middle and South are “technically” 4000 footers for the NH 48 list. Plus? I haven’t done them yet! SO I’m now at 42/48 which I’m stupid happy about.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this hike because I loved the Wildcats (southern peaks of this range), Carter Dome (just south of Mt. Hight, north of Wildcats), and Mt. Moriah (a few peaks north of Middle). Panda and I hiked the Wildcats in fall of 2016 and Carter Dome in fall 2017, so I was happy to get back onto this range in another season.
We (my friend Ari and I) took Nineteen mile brook trail to Carter Dome trail which then brings you to a split where if you go right you head towards Mt. Hight and Carter Dome, but left sends you on the Carter-Moriah trail towards South and Middle. Back in October, Pan and I took the first two trails and then turned right to reach Mt. Hight and Carter Dome and I loved them because they are mellow and absolutely gorgeous. They give you time to process and be in absolutely awe with nature without wondering if your heart if going to explode. That being said, my two favorite types of trails are 1. mellow and 2. SPICY as possible, so either calm or steep as can be. Safe to say I’m a big fan of extremes.
From the trail junction to South is below tree-line and relatively easy grade with a quick moderate incline at the end (obviously… you do have to summit the mountain!). On this section were some blow downs which I believe to be remnants from a storm back in late October… Added a nice little obstacle element!
I loved the part between South and Middle because it opens up for a short time and there are absolutely amazing views of the presidential range (1st picture in this post) from here. Ridge-line hiking is without a doubt the best option, it’s just so real and raw. You’re so small compared to the mountains you’re on and the mountains surrounding you. It’s a very humbling experience and one that helps me realize how to put life into perspective. There is so much more in the world than the daily grind “down there”; the little problems we encounter on a day to day basis are really put in place when you’re standing on a summit in the winter looking at these massive mountains knowing that Mother Nature could very well take you down. It teaches me to respect both the entire process and myself a little bit more.
After summiting South and Middle we backtracked the Carter-Moriah trail and headed towards Mt. Hight. The climb up Hight is a short and spicy one, a nice hike finisher 😉 While I’ve hiked this mountain before, that doesn’t matter. It has 360 views and they are superb. I can see where people may not want to climb the same mountain multiple times, but for me, each hike is different. Sure, I know the trail more each subsequent time but that’s about it. The process from trailhead to summit depends on who I am hiking with, the day, my mind, the weather… there are so many factors and no matter what I don’t think I’ll ever have full deja vu on a hike.
You might be able to see in the photo above that I have a green sled attached to my pack. Yes, indeed butt sledding down the mountain is “a thing” and it happens to be one of my favorite things about winter hiking. I feel like a little kid flying down the mountain on a sled. Of course, not all sections of trail allow for this – super steep (usually end up on actual butt sliding not on a sled), multiple water crossings, or when the trail is on a slant and you would essentially end up in a ravine! I probably ended up sledding for about a mile of the total 4.6 descent from Mt. Hight to the car. Fully recommend experiencing this in your lifetime.
Overall it was a great hike. Mt. Hight remains one of my favorite summits and I can continue to say that I dig the Carter-Moriah Range. I told Ari that I really want to run this section come summer/fall! I also noticed that I’m getting better at identifying other peaks from the summits/view points. It’s neat though because being in the mountains feels so much like being home, that understanding where I am in relation to other peaks I’ve climbed/have yet to climb feels great. It’s a whole new level of awareness, one I plan to keep cultivating.
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” – René Daumal