Afternoons spent riverside, watching the clouds move across the sky in random patterns and with unassuming intent. I have had time to reflect on what inspires me, what motivates me, and why I do what I do.
For the past handful of years, I have spent months of winter working in ungodly conditions- -40 degree temperatures, waking up at 5 am, working double shifts in restaurants- to afford a lifestyle that I am passionate about. During the ephemeral summer months, and the surrounding seasons that are warm enough, I live in my car or my tent or in the renovated cabin in my moms backyard. My days are spent climbing and camping, swimming in the lake with my dog and relaxing by rivers. Summer could go on forever, it seems. Most days, the sun rises before me and sets as I lay to rest, beneath a canvas of stars and planets. I love everything about summer- the adventure, the endless opportunity for exploration, the farmers markets, comfortable water temperatures and sand in my hair. From April to October, the excitement never ends, the smiles are permanent, and the passion is overflowing. My focus for a single form of adventure is muddled with opportunity for new and old ways to recreate. Today I may bike on my new-to-me (very used) bike, or I may find a new beach to sink my bare feet into, or a new route of granite to ascend, or a back road I have yet to drive, even if it means going hours out of the way. A certain youthfulness embodies my soul. I am pure where the sun is shining and the air is warm.
I begin to peel back the pages of my personal life in an attempt to pin point the moments when I found the passion for exploration and adventure. My mom and dad would hike with me on their backs, before I could walk. My childhood was decorated with annual camping trips to the California coast and sierra foothills. I spent weeks of summer at camp, learning about friendship and freedom. Winters were complete with ski trips and eventually a relocation back to my hometown of Tahoe where I would find myself snowboarding a minimum of one hundred days a season, most all of those powder days at Kirkwood. When I was a sophomore in high school, I went on an Adventures Cross Country trip to British Columbia, where I learned to whitewater kayak, rock climb, and backpack. They nurtured this life of fresh air and tall trees, always supporting the seemingly crazy pursuits for plans of scaling mountains and peaks, wandering summits, valleys, and floating rivers. It’s hard to locate that moment when it all stuck but I believe a continual love for the outdoors reinforced with instruction and exploration, during my trip to Canada, embedded this passionate, adventurous lifestyle into the grain of my soul.
As the water flows down the Tuolumne River in an endless, yet fluctuating supply, I watch the years flow by as well. Time sure does fly when you are having fun and the summer season happens in the blink of an eye. Now ten years after I first put on a backpack, filled with everything I would need for weeks of travel, I find myself backpacking hundreds of miles every year. I was 16 when I tied in to a dynamic rope and monkeyed my way up a 50 meter rock, yet a few college courses, two years ago, has become day after day after day of seeking domes and summits to venture up. Reflecting on where my adventurous lifestyle was born has offered me an opportunity to have gratitude for the childhood memories spent wandering meadows and mountains. I am thankful to my parents for the life that they created for both my sister and I- we have deep rooted love for adventure and exploration.
Even though summer will eventually come to a close and cool fall days will replace the hot summer afternoons, my passion for being outside, exploring new landscapes, climbing ever higher domes and peaks, and the irreplaceable feeling of warm sand under my bare feet will forever ignite my soul fire.