I love hiking, but it wasn't always that way. Despite growing up in Abbotsford, with a view of Mount Judge Howay and Mount Robie Reid from my bedroom window, I really didn't love the activity. It wasn't until I had completed my university degree and settled into a full-time office job that my desire to be outdoors began to really flourish. And by desire, I mean obsession.
On the weekend of my 24th birthday, I began my Wilderness Project. The concept was to explore somewhere new once a week, every week, for a year and document my progress on this little blog of mine. Somehow I was able to not only complete the challenge but also maintain my momentum. Along the way I've connected with all sorts of new friends, seen some incredible sights, and am now in the best shape of my life!
Yet, I haven't seen all there is to see. I have far more time in the winter to hike, but that's when most of trails are either closed or inaccessible due to snow. There are so many more mountains to check off my list, trail knowledge to accumulate and gear to collect.
There came a point this past winter when Coco and I had exhausted all the trails we could reach in the winter season and were itching for the snow to melt and open up more options. We decided to focus this anticipation energy on training up for the summer. We committed ourselves to hiking rain or shine or snow and pushing our times. This made for some soggy Abby Grind's and an overdose of the Elk-Thurston trail, but we had a goal in mind and we stayed focused.
To truly enjoy the outdoors, we decided we also needed to expand our experience in camping. So we began saving money for extreme weather sleeping bags, matts, and overnight packs. We practiced our campfire building skills and pushed ourselves to rely less and less on our more experienced friends.
We are still learners, but we've developed our own little list of mantra's through these experiences.
Kat + Coco's wilderness mantra's
1. Always bring your headlamp -- It's potentially the most useful piece of gear you could have with you at all times.
2. Be a "yes man" -- The call to adventure can come at any hour of the day or night. If an adventure comes calling as you're getting ready for bed, ditch the pj's and get your butt out the door. Seriously, you won't regret losing a few hours sleep in the long run. Remember, overnighters don't need to be overly planned, hikes don't need to be an all-day affair, daylight hours don't need to play a factor (as long as you've got your headlamp!), and itineraries aren't necessary.
3. Difficulty is relative -- Don't assume something is too difficult to try just because your barista said it was the hardest hike of their life. You'd be surprised how different personal experiences can be. Often it just comes down to having proper gear, good conditions, and the right amount of determination.
4. Share your plans -- Let someone know where you're going and when you generally plan on getting home. Trust me, you don't want to return from a great day in the alpine to find 25 worried texts, 10 missed phone calls, and a filed missing person's report. It's as easy as a quick snapchat to your circle of friends so that your bases are covered.
5. Know your people -- You need to surround yourself with people who you can rely on for being on board for even the craziest, last minute plans. Who will inspire you to jump into an alpine lake? Who will lend the gear? Who do you need to keep caffeinated to remain hyped? Who is cool with early mornings and late nights for the sake of adventure? Who will be chill with having no concrete plans? This is your tribe, and if you have their back, they'll have yours.
6. Go until you can't -- Road and trail conditions aren't reliable, but you should prep appropriately and give it a go anyway. You can always turn around if things get sketchy. You honestly never know what might happen, and that's exciting!
Do you have any mantras of your own? I'd love to add to my list!
That photo of RJ cracks me up. He agreed to supervise Coco and I in building our first campfire from scratch (no lighter fuel, newspaper, or fire starter allowed!) and was completely unimpressed. We've since refined our skills substantially, but it was a very pathetic first attempt that involved many "Whoa! Kat, what are you doing!?!?"