Sometimes the greatest journeys are not the ones out into the world but rather a hard look inwards at who we are and who we want to become.
Adventures take me to places that ignite my soul and where my mind is free to dream big. With the world put on hold for an unforeseeable amount of time, I struggled to stay inspired and motivated. Was it possible to find happiness and inspiration amidst a global pandemic?
Over the last decade, my definition of adventure has morphed from weekend ski trips during college into big mountain climbing expeditions in some of the most remote and harsh environments planet earth has to offer. Like most of us, I had big plans for 2020 all of which were canceled due to a microscopic, world-shifter called COVID-19. For me, adventures take me to places that ignite my soul and where my mind is free to dream big. With the world put on hold for an unforeseeable amount of time, I struggled to stay inspired and motivated. Was it possible to find happiness and inspiration amidst a global pandemic?
I am fortunate to call Steamboat Springs, CO my home because that means my everyday landscape is a mountainous playground. Trail running, mountain biking, and skiing are my daily activities, but after climbing an 8000m peak in the Himalayas, the routine no longer seemed to qualify as “adventure”. I was left with the question of why. Why were my everyday “micro-adventures” not good enough and how could I switch that mindset? As I began the deep dive into my frame of mind, I created a list of criteria my endeavors had to meet in order for me to feel fulfilled.
With my criteria in place, I started brainstorming and was quickly overwhelmed with ideas. A running challenge, camping alone, completing multiple 14ers solo in a day, and writing a book were all at the top of my list. For each unique trial, I knew if I felt resistant to the challenge and a little bit afraid, I was on the right track.
I began with a running challenge called “The Calendar Club” which entailed running the corresponding date in miles during the entire month of April. April 1st meant running 1 mile, April 2nd meant 2 miles, April 15th was 15 miles and so on - totaling 465 miles for the month. This sounded doable until I looked at the last week of April and realized I would have to run back-to-back marathons for six days straight on an already exhausted body.
The Calendar Club would push all of my perceived limits and would be insanely difficult. Quite frankly, it scared the sh&t out of me. Thoughts of how uncomfortable my body would be and the thousands of reasons I could fail were paralyzing. Every fiber of my being said no way, don’t do this, this is crazy. I found inspiration however from a different source: For every mile I completed, a meal would be donated to those in need during the initial pandemic lockdown. I knew I could endure the misery if it meant I was helping someone else, so into the pain cave I went.
From day one I worried if my body could endure what my ambition sought. I am not an ultra-runner, and in the last five years I probably have not run more than 300 miles total. Within the first week, an old foot fracture began to haunt me, especially as the runs grew longer and more arduous. Still my body battled through rain, snow, hail and sunshine. After running 243 miles, the previous injury became too much to tolerate. I had reached my finish line.
Although I didn’t get to complete “The Calendar Club” challenge, my body moved when it didn’t want to and ultimately, I thrived from it. Sometimes the hardest part of taking on a seemingly impossible challenge or an epic quest that scares you, is knowing when it’s just not your time. I found adventure in the middle of a pandemic and it wasn’t on the side of a mountain. Sometimes the greatest journeys are not the ones out into the world but rather a hard look inwards at who we are and who we want to become.