I stopped writing essays and how-to articles for the High Fives for Hikers Blog because, well, I stopped hiking.
Starting in the Spring of 2018, just before I moved to Colorado, my boyfriend and I started running rather than hiking on the weekends. We would hike into the woods, find a nice spot to camp, and run on the surrounding trails.
Running up mountains is not something that I’m good at. I sometimes say that my lungs suck, but that’s a little bit rude to my lungs. My lungs work really hard for me everyday, and I’m extremely grateful for what they CAN do. They’re just not…“run up a mountain” lungs like some people have. Me and my lungs, we have asthma.
Anyways, I didn’t feel like I could write about running in the mountains. For most people, running up mountains just isn’t relatable. For those people who do have “run up a mountain lungs,” I have very little to offer you. As my students would say, “that ain’t it.”
So, April, May, June: Running in the mountains. July, we moved to Colorado. AND, we started hiking again! I thought about getting back to the blog, but something stopped me.
Up until this point I had written mainly about east coast hiking. The hikes on the east coast felt miniscule compared to the big mountains surrounding my new home. They’re three times the size, actually.
I also just ASSUUUUMED that the people here were larger than life. I was just a little east coast hiker, trying to find my way in the big mountains. Why would these bad ass people care about what I have to say? Once again, I let my ego get in the way.
And then, there was one more wrench. The wrench was a bike.
Arriving in the Roaring Fork Valley is like arriving in Bike Town, USA. Kyle and I kept looking around and saying, “EVERYONE here has a bike.”
“That guy has a bike.”
“She has a bike.”
“LOOK! A whole family of bikes!”
We couldn’t resist. We bought road bikes and began exploring the valley on whatever pavement we could find. We SAID that we’d have to wait until next season to invest in mountain bikes. We waited…a whole three weeks. So, we went from being die hard hikers to die hard bikers almost overnight.
And so, the wrenches that have kept me from writing for High Fives For Hikers are:
(Not necessarily in that order)
Let’s start with wrenches #1 and #3: Running and Bikes
High Fives for Hikers wasn’t ever simply about hiking. It was about the impact of the outdoors. It was about how going outside can help us to “press reset,” connect with other people, and push mental and physical boundaries.
Right now, with Covid-19 as part of our global load, high fives aren’t even allowed. Fortunately, I can still spread excitement (at a 6 ft distance, of course) doing whatever activity I flipping want.
I have been letting the title of the blog get in the way, but it’s MY BLOG–I decide what’s on theme. So, friends, here’s what on “theme.” HIKING IS ON THEME. BIKING IS ON THEME. RUNNING…ON THEME. Camping? My future camper van? My life as a teacher? Book reviews? IT’S. ALL. ON. THEME.
High Fives for Hikers is a state of mind. It’s excitement and fun. It’s meeting new people and it’s being a bright shiny light. Okay? Okay. Sorry I yelled at you.
Wrench #2: Confidence
When I think about the times that I have felt my best, it is when I am dedicating time to writing. I am motivated and excited–overall, my life is elevated. As a new biker, and a wanna-be writer, I should have written about my journey from being absolutely terrible at bikes to being pretty okay at bikes–obviously, I didn’t do that.
When I am in a routine and on a roll, writing comes easily, but I’m not always on a roll, or in the right head space, or excited about life. I find myself constantly coming back to, “whooo cares?” Like literally, who wants to read this? Mom? Dad? Anyone?
I love to write because it is my way of being mindful and creative. I like sharing the joy the outdoors and I want to encourage other people to get outside! I know that, at a minimum, two people have been inspired to hike because of my blog, and that makes me really happy.
A few years ago, I wrote an essay about why I was writing for High Fives for Hikers. I said:
“Until this moment, High Fives for Hikers has been about me. It’s been about how I can make writing my job. It has been about how I can make money. Ridiculous.”
I went on to explain that my new purpose was the reader, and that if “anyone at all gets the impact of the outdoors for themselves [because of H54H], that will be enough.”
Survey says: That was a lie.
When I was in 6th grade, I was recognized in a writing competition about Memorial Day. The student teacher for my geography class encouraged me to enter, and it was on that day that I decided, “I want to be a writer.” A lot of things have gotten in the way since then, all of them coming back to confidence.
Here’s the very scary, but actual truth:
It would be a dream come true if I could monetize my writing in some way. I’d like nothing more than to live in a van and write about my adventures full time. It feels impossible, but I can’t think of a better life.
I read a book recently called Atomic Habits written by James Clear. He says that each time you complete an act (positive or negative) you are casting a vote for the type of person you are. So, if you want to be a runner, each time you run, you are casting a vote for yourself as a runner. When you wake up in the morning with no motivation, you can ask yourself: “what would a runner do?” If you really want to be a runner, you have a chance to cast a vote for yourself to become a runner.
So the question is, what kind of person do I want to be?
I want to be a writer.
I want to be confident.
I want to be adventurous.
I want to be brave.
I want to be motivated.
I want to be fit.
I want to be a bright shiny light.
Writing this blog has made me really happy in the past. I don’t know what will come of it (the sad truth is, probably nothing), but I won’t ever be a writer if I don’t write.
Today I am casting a vote for myself as a confident, motivated and brave person who also likes to write.
Hopefully, I’ll cast another vote next week, too.