I have no idea how I got here. Wait. That's not true. I'm here because I discovered a love for the outdoors and I wanted to share it. That's how the social media aspect began anyway... but how did I get here? How did I come to love hiking so much? I never considered myself to be "outdoorsy" growing up. I didn't necessarily think I was "indoorsy" either... but if the shoe fits. I'd like to tell you I discovered my love for the mountains and being in nature all on my own, but that's not entirely true. It was sparked by a boy.
I have not had many serious relationships. My first "real" relationship didn't take place until I was 22 years old. What can I say... I was a late bloomer. He was a nice guy with a good sense or humor, but when I think back, all we really had in common was music, movies, video games and pizza - at least that's how I remember it. After that relationship ended, I realized I'd spent too many years with someone who I did nothing truly memorable with. We never went to the beach, never went on a hike, never went camping, never went on a weekend getaway together. It's sad to think about, but I chalk that relationship up to being a complete and utter newbie. Thankfully my next relationship was with someone much more active. He played tennis, loved to ski and had a healthy appreciation and enthusiasm for nature. We made plans to hike and go camping in the upcoming summer months and I was SO excited! ...but the relationship ended... in early spring... Womp, womp.
I was sad about another failed relationship, naturally, but I also distinctly remember being disappointed that I was losing out on the opportunity to DO things with someone I cared about. What was more sad was feeling like without him, or someone to take me, those experiences were off the table. That was the real tragedy.
And then it dawned on me... I don't need anyone to go with me and hold my hand. Why it took me so long to realize that is beyond me, but hey, at least it happened.
I felt super awkward and out of place walking into REI all by myself. I purchased a pair of hiking boots, a day pack on clearance and a couple water bottles. I even became an REI member that same day! I set out on my first solo hike the next evening. I lived in Issaquah, Washington at the time and I could get home from work, change my clothes and be at a trailhead 20 minutes later. Hiking up the trail, by myself, for the very first time... was exciting and liberating. I kept thinking "I'm seriously doing this!" and it felt gooooood. About halfway up I saw an older scruffy-ish man coming down the trail with a hiking stick in hand. I thought "Hmm... what if this guy hit me with his hiking stick? He could literally knock me unconscious. Oh F... this guy is totally going to hit me with his hiking stick and it's going to be lights out. Shit! THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T GO HIKING ALONE HOLLY!" It was a nerve-wracking 10-15 seconds, but to my surprise, he greeted me and passed right by without an assault on my life.
I continued to explore the local trails in Issaquah and North Bend 2-3 times a week for about a month, but it got old, fast. I wanted more! I spent my free time during the week researching hiking trails, creating lists of places I wanted to see, and I spent my weekends getting out and crossing those places off that list. My friends all thought I was crazy. I would leave at 6:00am on a Saturday or Sunday, drive 2-3+ hours one way, hiking all day and then driving home. I loved it though. I was getting in shape, doing and experiencing something new and just for me, and I was growing as a person. All that time alone, listening to music in the car and my thoughts on the trail... it could not have been more beneficial in the process of getting to know myself. Not only was I becoming addicted to the mountains, but I was addicted to what was happening inside of me. The girl I was before I began hiking is so much different than the woman I am today, and I can absolutely attribute that to what I like to call "mountain therapy." I'm thankful I took the opportunity to explore and grow this passion on my own. Hiking/backpacking/the mountains - they have become a necessity for me and I can't imagine what my life would be like without it. I believe that nature has a wonderful way of healing our minds, bodies and souls, and showing us what we truly need to see, if we allow it.
So thank you boyfriend #1 for showing me what I do not want in a relationship and thank you boyfriend #2 for getting me excited for activities in nature. I can officially call myself an "outdoorsy" girl! I'm proud, I'm healthy... and even though my passion was initially sparked by a boy, I know I did it all on my own.
And that, my friends, is exactly how I got here.