It's the day after my big gig. I was asked to be the photographer at Yogi Magee's Snow and Suds 2018: Daycation Hike to Herman's Gulch. A simple snowshoe hike....or so I thought. I met Natalie from following her on Instagram, I contacted last year her regarding finding some epic spots for my engagement sessions and elopements and when we met I instantly liked her. She is so warm, friendly and inviting. We went on a few hikes this year, and I knew that I was well below her fitness level. I mean she's a yoga, barre and cycle instructor not to mention has close to all the 14'ers under her belt. But the thing I love about hiking with her was she has never made me feel bad for any break I had to take.
We headed up with Natalie and 5 other women I had never met on this gorgeous bluebird day. As an extrovert secret introvert, it takes a lot of energy for me to just get to these situations. I have never mastered the art of small talk and I'm so bad and awkward at it. So I kinda dread these situations but I'm constantly pushing myself into this to hoping to get better at it. Nothing ever grows in your comfort zone. We headed up and it started, I was queasy...I thought to myself, "No you're fine." But I knew, I was getting car sick. I know I get car sick on winding roads, but this was I-70! So I finally had to interrupt everyone and say, "Ummmm....at the gas station can you stop? I'm car sick." I just wanted to crawl under a rock. I got sick but I didn't end up feeling bad about it. I had a group of women who were nice, caring and understanding and were kind enough to trade spots with me. I bought some Dramamine and we kept going.
After putting on our snowshoes, I attached 30-pound backpack full of camera gear to my back and instantly knew I better be the caboose. The trail starts straight up. Natalie and I had done this trail before with snow, but no need for snowshoes when we did this. But strapping on 5lbs to each foot topped with fresh snow made this a hike that would bring me to my knees. What you may not know about winter hiking is the trails are made up, because you can't see the summer trails, so sometimes even though someone has made tracks there, it's not actually a path. We tried the path less taken. Whoa. Fresh powder, post holeing for about a mile. I'm pretty sure just from that part of the hike alone, nothing I eat for the next week will count.
As our hike went onwards and upwards, we were surrounded by amazing views, which I really enjoyed often because I was taking so many breaks. The group started to split and that was okay. While we were getting closer and closer to the top, it was getting to the point we were hiking 10 seconds and then stopping for a break. We were exhausted, at about 12,000 feet and struggling. Two amazing girls made the very wise decision to turn around. One had the early stages of altitude sickness. We were so close to the top I decided I would go ahead (because I needed to get some photographs!) and let the others know that they had turned around. These are the moments I 100% understand why so many people end up dying on Mount Everest trying to achieve their goal. On my way, I took two breaks that took me to my knees. I just needed to get off my feet and give my calves a break and I think I even thought to myself, "Mountain, you are gorgeous, breathtaking with your views and wind and I respect you." I got to the top as the other's were about to turn around and I was able to do a little shooting of everyone by of the frozen lake.
Coming down the mountain was a great change of pace, it meant I was going to be wearing out other muscles. I was still holding my place as the solid caboose. I was pretty exhausted and I was holding back some tears of embarrassment. I voiced my embarrassment to the group and they wouldn't let me feel that. I'm getting teary-eyed just thinking of what Natalie said to me. "You didn't fail, you just learned a lot of things on this hike." It was true, but I was still feeling bad that I wasn't able to keep up as well as I had wanted, but Natalie wouldn't let me feel bad. That's a strong woman right there. Giving people a hand up and pushing their limits and not letting them feel anything but proud.
At the end of our hike, I gloriously took off my 30-pound pack, and said sheepishly, "I'm really sorry I couldn't keep up." And with that, Natalie laughed and said with a huge smile, "We don't say sorry. Look at you. You did get to the top and you learned lessons, and we had fun and made friends." I love the thought of not saying sorry. (I mean I say sorry when I'm wrong, but I also say sorry when there is no need....a lot) The women on this trip were incredible and every single one of them were encouraging, real, and strong. And not strong because they made it to the top of the mountain, but because each one of them encouraged each other and lifted each other up, whether it was to the top of the mountain or not.
Yesterday the mountain served me a big fat fresh piece of humble pie, and because of it I learned so many things and I have created so many new goals for myself that I didn't know I needed to work for. Natalie always says winter hiking will break your heart and that is the truth. Yesterday it tore me to pieces, and today looking back it builds me back up, and I don't feel weak, I feel strong (and sore).
If you ever have a chance to do any of Yogi Magee retreats, don't walk run! You will not regret it. I'm thrilled to be a guest at her June Telluride retreat and her photographer at her August Telluride retreat. You will do incredible things, meet incredible women and believe in yourself a little more! She has a couple more day-cations coming up, trips to Zion and surfing and yoga in Panama. Follow her on Instagram, like her Facebook page and see what adventures you may like to go on!