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joy in the present | a reflection

Every time we move into a new Gregorian calendar year, I find myself reflecting. Sometimes it comes unsolicited. I find reflection valuable throughout the year and try to not make it only at times like year ends and year beginnings. But inevitably I do. Last year’s reflection was on realizing how far I’ve come in terms of outdoor adventures. Reflection keeps me humble and thankful for this wondrous life.

Lately, what I’ve been reflecting on is not how much I do but the quality of it. (But if you were curious, yes, I surprisingly surpassed my stats from last year, thinking I would have plateaued by now).

I think this is a fairly common theme as people get older (evidence by my slightly older friends). We can keep chasing all these big stats, more gain, more distance, but the most meaningful is who you’re with and you enjoying the whole process of it. And I truly leaned into that feeling in 2021.

Ruby Mountain

Alpine Lakes Wilderness – Thunder Lakes Backpacking

Simply put, I had such a fantastic 2020 year (despite the pandemic) and had huge growth in my outdoor experience, thanks to all my friends who pushed me in the right direction. When 2021 came around, I wasn’t sure if I could beat 2020 so I sort of set the bar lower. But then I’d think back and get FOMO. Where were my crazy night hours of alpenglow expeditions? Or my glorious alpine lakes backpacking experiences? Or those amazing glacier climbs? My time seemed to be filled with other activities.

But I can hardly complain. It was hard to remember to live in the present instead of the past. To enjoy what I had because it truly was all so sweet and dear. To not get that fear of missing out because there is no worth in feeling that negativity. So I am sorry, my friends, if on our trips I seemed out of it, searching for something else when all I needed was right in front of me and our beautiful friendships. I lamented for too long instead of celebrating all that has happened. 

Climbing Rainier

Ruth Mountain Expedition

And truly, there were alpenglow expeditions. There were glacier crossings and backpacking into the alpine lakes. Not to mention plenty of larch march hikes. Who am I to complain?

2021 brought me to realize the strength of all-female trips, the importance of having these trips. I love trips with my guy friends too, but I admit, the laughter and the sort of silliness that happens is not one found when guys are present. And that joy we share is so special to me. Thank you my friends for bringing me so much happiness!

2021 has proven to me that I can be confident in the outdoors. From leading trips to feeling competent on technical terrain to simply just having a good time outside without the need to necessarily do the most gain, most distance. Although it has been good to push those limits as a by-product of adventuring to certain places.

2021 forced me to reevaluate my priorities, which lately have been getting my photography business up and running after several successful (and might I say soooo fun) engagement and elopement sessions. Thank you to all my couples for letting me be your camera hype woman! It’s been a joy through and through.

2021 pushed aside my pursuit in the food department. Fear not, I will return soon, but I learned to let go of it so I could focus on other projects. Baking and cooking still happened, but I allowed myself to learn more than I was creating recipes because there is so much to learn! And honestly I had a lot of fun learning to bake new things like Galette Des Rois.

Mt Baker Climb

Mt Adams Climb

But let’s come back around to that reflection theme. I’m finally realizing that the most fun I have has been with friends when I’ve been the most present. Not necessarily doing the “coolest” thing. And especially when our abilities align, we share a similar drive for adventures even when it gets rough and bushwacky, and have a mutual respect for each other. It’s when we collaborate on the same level, giving and taking on the same frequency, knowing that we can still learn from each other. And the amazing thing is that this is all disregarding whether one person is more fit or more experienced or otherwise. It can all be the same playing field.

Whether I do something that is “easy” or “difficult” to me, there is joy to be found. Maybe we’re going slower, but then I can marvel at the little details of the forest. Or maybe we’re going faster than I can manager, and then I learn to be more efficient. There is beauty on mountain tops and beautiful in the lush forest. I cannot take for granted all these experiences that God has graciously allowed me to have. So I am thankful for what I am capable of and the whole network of support I have to live this truly incredible life.

If you’ve read this far in my ramblings, thank you so much for following along this journey and peering into my mind as an adventure seeker, mountain lover, storyteller kind of person. This blog has given me the space to not just share my adventures, but to explore myself as well. It dials it back to remembering everyone is at different stages and it’s all good wherever we’re at. I never want to seem too aloof or unapproachable, though I do hope that some of my adventures can inspire and foster that spark of adventure in others. And this new year, I’m recommitting myself to keep working on making the outdoors more approachable for all and to genuinely accept the joy of being outside with an open heart, embracing all the adventures I’ll be sharing with friends.

Happy hiking my friends!

In order of appearance, links to the blogs:

infinity mountains | ruby ski tour

slow and steady | thunder mountain lakes backpacking

multisport fun | rainier attempt via ingraham direct

alpenglow wonders | ruth mountain overnight

under-represented strength | mt baker via easton

where feet may fail | crater mountain + devils dome loop

a larch guide | 20+ crowd-free washington hikes

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