I stood outside of a motel in New Meadows, Idaho on a clear brisk morning wearing a new knit hat from a new friend wondering what the next six days ahead of me would be like. That morning I left excited, nervous and ready to take on whatever challenges laid ahead. Hell Hike and Raft over the next six days did in deed challenge me, reward me and open up a part of me that needed to once again be opened.
With new friends, new gear and full of expectations of an epic adventure we collectively set of into the wilderness. A year later on the cusp of just returning once again from the Seven Devils and Hells Canyon this time with a new group of epic adventurers, I feel truly grateful.
While each trip for me has it's own merits, stories, bonds formed and specific memories this recent adventure was quite invigorating. Maybe it was because I knew what to expect, knew what was around the next corner but I felt stronger and hiked better then I can remember. Climbs and stretches of the hike that kicked my butt last year had minimal impact on me this year. Your probably thinking well you must have trained harder this year knowing what was upon you? Right? Wrong! I did nothing. Eating, traveling for work and partaking of things that would not be helpful for ascending 1,000 ft on day one were the norm. My unintended strategy was also hampered by a wrist brace to secure at the time what I thought was a sprained wrist. Recently, I just found this injury may be a torn radial meniscus in my left wrist. Yeah Me! I will keep everyone posted on the outcome of my impending MRI and potential surgery. :(
My mantra of Hiking Forward truly came alive inside me during this past trek. I saw things I didn't notice the year before or potentially were too tired or exhausted to look for. The extra energy, strength, endurance whatever it was that let me feel the way I was allowed me to do things I didn't do the year before as well. Experiencing new things definitely enhanced the trip and my spirits along the way. Backpacking no matter how you feel, for me gives a natural high. Seeing nature in its pristine state and seeing things most don't get the privilege too, helps make the next step easier for me. But on top of the beauty within the Seven Devils having the legs to conquer and accomplish this journey in a way I never knew was possible made this adventure truly amazing for me deep in my core.
I know I am not getting any younger (damn birthday just a few days away) and moments and feelings like this will obviously diminish over time. But I feel its important to cherish every adventure no matter how you felt during it. On any trek you need a baseline. Last year was my baseline and I loved every minute of it. But without it, I would not have known just how amazing I felt this year and been able take advantage of all the new experiences.
Word of advice. Do the same adventure again. Not all the time. But go and take your favorite backpacking trip or hiking trip again. See what you can see, go slower, go faster. Camp somewhere different. Experiencing the same thing in a different way and maybe with different people can be quite and epic adventure.
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