August 10, 2016 – Tomorrow I will embark on a journey I have been planning and envisioning in my mind, heart, and soul for weeks. Months. With a small group of close friends, I will embark upon my first multi-day hike on the Mt. Hood Timberline Trail, starting from Timberline Lodge, and moving counter-clockwise around the circumference of what I consider “my mountain.” I have grown up in that mountain’s trees, rivers, and lakes, as her wilderness opened its arms to me at a very young age thanks to both of my outdoors-loving parents. The times I remember most fondly include many camping trips throughout the great Pacific Northwest, but Mt. Hood, especially, has always held a piece of my heart. Her silhouette, shadow and sunrise, summer brown-grey, and winter-white coat, are etched permanently on my wild spirit.
At the suggestion of a friend, the planning of this trip began earlier this spring. I was initially timid but genuinely excited…more so than I have been about anything other than my wedding (or my 21st birthday).
I’ve invested many miles over the trails around my house and across the Columbia Gorge, training my body for the intensity it is about to experience. Training my mind to overcome the inevitable desire to stop walking when it gets to a tough climb. I am carrying ever more weight to get my feet used to the extra necessities in my backpack.
I look forward to the expansion of who I am. I hope for it. This is, for me, a great dream come true, and it took a friendly suggestion for me to reach for and truly prepare to realize it. The continued support of my husband, mother, and sister, who have been my greatest cheerleaders throughout this preparation, has been invaluable. Everyone else offering advice, excitement, and support for this endeavor has been amazing, and I am thankful every day. The friends who join me in this endeavor keep me excited and ready for more.
I will appreciate the energy if you think a good thought for us up there this weekend, soaking in the mountain’s glory. This will be new and a step beyond my normal comfort zone. My 40th birthday is approaching next month, and I desire to only push my limits further to other adventures I have yet to dream of.
I have learned so much in my time so far. I want to keep going.
August 16, 2016
We are home safe and sound, with very little injury (thanks to moleskin, proper footwear, sunscreen, bug spray, and luck). This Timberline Trail adventure has been amazing.
A revision after day two was required, but we ended up completing almost 22 total miles of trail over four days. This friendship has grown stronger, and our ability to lean on each other, communicate and compromise was amazing. Mt. Hood is AWESOME, and our lives will never be the same. This trip was an amazing success.
I think we all gained a new appreciation for the strength of our bodies. Our understanding of water and its life-giving properties is permanently altered. I have never before known a moment when I was tired, thirsty, out of water, and unsure when my next drink would be, and we know what that means now.
As Chris said after we finished yesterday, it was so fun/crazy/spiritual/eye-opening. So many times I was in awe of myself and humbled by my surroundings. So many times I asked myself, “What the hell are you doing?!?” Feeling alone and small on the ridge of a mountain, with nothing but your own strength and fortitude to pull you up that enormous ridge (along with the encouragement of your mates to push you)…I am forever changed.
I’ve been pretty emotional since the end of our trek yesterday. My sore ankles will fade, but the drive and desire to do more are there. The backpacking bug has bitten me, and this is only the beginning.
Cheers and best wishes to make the best of your life adventures.
Total Tracked GPS Map Miles: 21.69
Total Tracked Fitbit Steps: 99,538
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ~John Muir