Maybe it was a meltdown, maybe a breakthrough, but recently as I was driving westbound on WA-14 after an amazing hiking experience, something started bubbling up inside of me like panic. I pulled my car over and ran toward the river. As I stood at the ebbing slate edge of the water, I threw my voice into the careless wind of the Columbia River Gorge, “What the fuck am I doing with my life?!” The first things that came to mind: I love to hike and I love to write. Instead of the blank feelings that usually follow when I try to put these pieces together I thought, there has to be something in that, right? I used to not think much about the future. Getting through each day was my work, but some time in the last couple of years the days stopped being so hard. I figured some stuff out. I learned how to be a fucking adult. Sort of. I sort of learned how to be happier and healthier and not so full of shit. I’ve got so much gratitude for these things, but then this annoying thing started happening where I started to want to “do something” with my life. It is terribly inconvenient.
Obviously, my life didn’t change on it’s own, though there is definitely something to getting older and not caring as much about the exacerbations of ego. A few years ago, I started hiking. Kind of on accident, but not entirely. I live in one of the most beautiful regions of the country, the Pacific Northwest. Portland, Oregon, specifically. I am surrounded by natural wonders: the Columbia River Gorge, Mount St. Helens and Mt. Hood chiefly among them. I lived here a full nine years before my brain finally caught up to my heart and got me out into all of that beautiful nature. It didn’t hurt that at the time I started dating this hot girl who loved the outdoors and wanted to show me some things.
The thing that held me back so long was that I used to think outdoor adventuring was for other people, not for me. That’s probably a hard concept to grasp if you don’t already know what it means from experience. Other people being the naturally athletic, antelope types who inherently knew that nature and athleticism were accessible to them. I can’t even tell you how often people see me on trails and ask if it’s my first time, or give me well-meaning but condescending reassurances that I’m “so close to the end! A bit farther.” I probably hike so much more than any of those people! As a fat, queer woman who used to identify firmly as an indoor city kid, I know that I have a unique perspective on this subject. I’m no closer to fitting in in the outdoors, but I found out that I don’t have to.
A blog isn’t an answer to the My Future conundrum, though it could be a step. My hiking and nature adventure life is so personal to me, but I feel like I have so much to share. I’ve learned some tremendous things that have changed my life. Nature taught me how to be spiritual. Apparently, I just need miles and miles and endless skies to let the powers at be in. I want, despite my loner tendencies (I mostly hike alone), to have a feeling of community about this stuff. I also hope this blog will kickstart my writing practice and the self-taught ramshackle Nature Studies program I’m creating for myself. I do have some concerns. Full disclosure, I don’t even really know what this will look like yet. Mostly information with the occasional story? I worry about tailoring my precious outdoor experiences to an audience, even a tiny one, and I don’t want another thing to compulsively check all of the time. I am going to try really hard to not do those things.
Please contact me any time for any information. Really, I love when people ask me about this stuff: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming soon: detailed write-ups of every hike I do, an easy to navigate list of trails for most skill levels, pictures, a gear list, camping information, secret spots REVEALED, etc.
love your blog, jenny! ❤
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Thank you so much, Annie! Also, you are my first comment!
So glad you’re doing this, Jenny! I can relate to you a lot with regards to nature and being a late bloomer to all it’s glory. I grew up in the city, Las Vegas, and was always a city gal. We went camping sometimes, swam in lakes in the summer, but I never was exposed to nature in the way I am living here. I moved here 15 years ago and didn’t take advantage of the outdoors right away. I started dating this guy who was a white water rafter and started taking me on 3-4 day overnight rafting trips and I was hooked. Our relationship fizzled, but I was always so appreciative to him for opening my eyes to the great outdoors. When I met, Chad, my husband, 8 years ago, his love of camping and the need to be out of the city, sealed the deal. We have a built a great life together and I think one of the main reasons is because we share the same love of adventure and being able to do it together makes life so much more enjoyable. Look forward to getting some hiking ideas and to just reading your stories.
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Nateesh, thank you for sharing sharing this story with me. I have a lot of family near Vegas. I also really love witnessing your nature adventure lifestyle. Hope you’ll still wanna get out even in the shitty weather xo
This is what the fuck you are doing with your life! I’m so happy you are doing it, my brave and beautiful friend.
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Your encouragement and love mean the world to me. Thank you, Erin.
gloriousness. thanks for this. i’ll check back as often as i’m daydreaming about the photos you take on IG. <3.
Thank you for reading, Rhienna xo
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