How Did I Start?
Hiking for me has changed the way I look at the world and appreciate it. I have always been an adventurer at heart, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I- a young, confused, uninspired 20-something really fell under the hiking spell. I can’t remember the first hike that “did it” for me, I think it was more of a steady blooming relationship than a love-at-first-sight ordeal. I can however say that there have been a few experiences that have given me an unquenchable thirst for adventure. I had the incredible opportunity to visit an (at the time sort of distant) relative and her husband in Germany when I was 16. They showed me all around Italy, Austria, France, Switzerland and gave me a truly life changing experience. I say that with all sincerity. I do not think I even realized at the time just how much of a positive impact this would have on me. Of course having the opportunity to travel in foreign countries is magnificent by itself, but there were also things going on around me at home that my impressionable 16 year old self just could not have handled alone.
I also had my epic college adventure. I apologize for maybe sounding redundant, but again, I don’t think I realized at the time just how much of an impact this trip was going to have on me. Essentially, my undergraduate theatre program had a three week London Study Abroad. It was the trip that it seemed every student yearned for in the department. I however, came from a very lower class family and had enough scholarships and financial aid to get me through (thank you FAFSA!) but absolutely no help from family to pay for housing, food, phone, clothes etc. I didn’t even have a car. Therefore, getting to study abroad in London would have meant $10,000 in student debt. That was too steep of a price tag for me. Luckily, a fellow adventurer from my department was in the same predicament as me, and was just as opposed to crazy debt as I was. We sat on the steps in our building that day and giggled about how incredible it would be to just say “Screw it!” and plan our own epic adventure.
That is exactly what we did.
Within a couple weeks we both booked a round trip flight from Salt Lake City, Utah- Dublin, Ireland. We had some money from our tax returns, and both of us were relatively savvy savers, so our plan was to book our hostels and buy our train tickets one at a time as we earned the money. Aaaaand, Trust me. I know that this is not the way your parents or really anyone would advise you to plan a foreign escapade, but we didn’t care. We were young and feeling exceptionally hardcore.
Long story short, we spent 2 months backpacking through Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. (If you would like to hear about this adventure in detail, I am considering maybe writing a small “series” about this adventure. Let me know if you would be into that!) We primarily stayed in hostels and camped. We obviously did not have the cash to spend on nice accommodations, but again, we didn’t care. We just wanted to experience the world and be outdoors.
From there, I think I just tried to chase those feelings. Two months isn’t a terribly long time, but I absolutely had enough time to figure out that there is magic in traveling to new places. No, I don’t mean it takes magic to get there, but a magical feeling. For me, I get butterflies, my heart starts beating, sometimes I want to cry, most of the time I can’t stop smiling and that euphoric state lasts long after the adventure ends. I close my eyes and think back on so many adventures and I get this rush of blissful nostalgia. I am more than certain this is what people refer to as “the travel bug.”
When I got home from my British escapades, I felt kind of depressed to be totally honest with you. I was in no way upset that I took the trip, it was amazing and I had the time of my life. It took me awhile to figure out why I felt so off after returning, but I think its because deep down I though that my “once in a lifetime adventure” had ended. I shook the funk off eventually, but I started to notice that I felt the most alive when I was “adventuring.” Every hike I went on refilled my tank with inspiration and gave me the drive to keep going on with my life. I am someone who has suffered from pretty bad anxiety and depression in my life, and I truly think that discovering my passion for adventure is what lifted me out of the recurring trap of depression. It is my outlet and my biggest source of inspiration.
I could go on all day about the positive things hiking has done for me in my life, or you could follow me on my adventures and hopefully reap some of the same benefits. It really isn’t hard to be an adventurer. I believe we are creatures meant to experience the world- not just stay in a cubicle or living room.
So let’s explore!