In January 2018, Maliah, Pixel (her dog) and I went on some epic adventures. I wrote a piece about one of our climbs in southern Washington.
Head over to the KEEN Blog for the full post and some of my winter hiking tips.
BETTER WEEKENDS TAKE BIGGER VIEWS
(AND SOMETIMES GAITERS)
On a crisp, cold Saturday morning, I stumbled uphill on a snowy trail in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, out of breath, red in the face, and exhausted. My nose was sniffling, eyes tearing up a bit from the cold, yet I was absolutely enthralled and my senses were firing on all circuits. As I crested the last hill, I caught up to Maliah and her dog, Pixel, and stopped to look around. The view was stunning enough to take more of my breath away—A 360° view of the Cascades was the reward for this uphill endeavor, and it’s safe to say that it was the best weekend I have had in a while.
At various times prior to this moment, I had contemplated turning back. My Saturdays are usually about sleeping in, taking it easy, and brunch. Motivating myself to get out in the cold instead of falling into my normal routine was already a small victory. Once we arrived at the trailhead and started hiking, I found that the going was rocky, as remnants of a former road left hundreds of small stones on the path to navigate along with the increasing steepness of the climb. I was winded, sweating, and questioning my choice of weekend activity.
Thankfully, with good companions comes good conversation and laughs. All of a sudden, my temporal struggles seemed to fade away. Before I knew it, I was sweating through my layers, laughing at my lack of grace as I stumbled on bumps in the road, throwing snowballs for Pixel, catching views of snow-covered valleys, and marveling at the beautiful geologic features on each side of the trail.
All of the “Why did I do this?” mental chatter that had rattled around in my mind turned into a chorus of “This is the best thing ever, and why don’t I do this more often?”
The thing is, I love a good adventure, but realistically my weekends often are less epic and far more mundane urban ordeals—navigating dicey grocery store parking lots, strenuous laundry activities, maybe even a crosstown trek of errands. I’ve found that it helps to have a pre-baked plan and a friend who will hold you accountable if you want to break out of the ordinary and do something that leaves you feeling inspired.
My recipe for a better weekend outside of my routine is a sweet spot that involves the outdoors, friends, and a slightly ambitious plan that makes me a bit nervous but excited at the same time. Having a plan, some basic gear, a public lands recreation pass, and a sense of humor helps me execute on my goals, and then a big dinner after a long day to celebrate and toast to future adventures is the icing on the peak.