I had it built up in my mind. I’d gotten to the top of Kings mountain in the coastal range before and the thought of encountering the same sheer drop terrain on the downhill and then traversing over to Elks and heading up again…and then down again…made my knees hurt just thinking about it.
But as you well know at this point, something about being miserable in the woods appeals to me. I’d set out to do the route that boasted 4600 feet of elevation gain over 11 miles once before but shit was falling apart in my life at the time and I aborted the hike to hang out with my dying dog instead.
It was time. Because I’d found the thing.
A little more than a month prior to this little adventure (which was several weeks ago because I am stellar at timely updates) I’d undergone a little experiment. I’d gotten sick one week and because I was tired and achy, had stayed away from my phone. And felt so damn good mentally that I decided to extend that a little longer. But then the little voice-the same one that told me to start running almost five years ago and then you know, turned my entire world upside down and now I’ve moved halfway across the damn country to go run in the mountains-piped up with a little idea. What if in addition to less screen time, I also got into the woods every day for that 30 days instead? How would my brain feel then? How would my body feel?
I often wonder where our little inner voice gets these ideas and if there is some sort of catalyst that causes them to pop into our brain and why some I listen to and some I don’t.
And also how it’s possible that this tiny little voice can casually throw out this idea to go for a run around the block or put the phone down for 30 days and that somehow changes everything.
When those 30 days were up, I’d put 100 miles on my legs. I’d explored more of the state I’ve come to call home. I’d accumulated approximately 15,000 feet of elevation gain. I’d read 9 books. I felt the delicious, satisfying fatigue of a mission accomplished. But most importantly, I found a direction after wandering around a little aimlessly for the past year.
Don’t get me wrong, wandering is a great thing to do. There is something so freeing about picking a trail, any trail, and going until you feel like turning around and then going home to eat an entire plate of nachos. I’d probably needed the time as well to get adjusted to the move and my new job, our new home. I needed time to learn my routines, to feel a sense of stability underneath my feet. It’s hard to fly if you don’t have a stable jumping off point.
It’s not lost on me that this little experiment started a year after I’d moved here either. Cycles. They are a thing.
So what’s the next big thing for me? I am going to attempt to summit 50 peaks throughout Oregon and Washington in 2 years. It’s a tight timeframe-especially considering many of the peaks are inaccessible in the winter (or accessible to someone way more versed in mountain climbing than me). And some are going to require major training, the kind that requires ice axes and rope skills, as well as cohorts to do this with. There are peaks I’m nervous about and peaks that I think are going to suck. I’m taking it really seriously. And I’m so excited.
But back Kings-Elks. Sometimes I do this thing when I’m nervous about something where I imagine it’s just going to be the worst thing ever. And then when it’s not, because most things aren’t ever as bad as the worst thing you can imagine, then it’s a nice surprise. That was Kings-Elks for me.
Okay. One down, 49 more to go.