2015’s Traverse [Part One]

My last post was boasting about how amazing 2015 was, so I figured I should write a little recap of some of my accomplishments. Though running, backpacking, and fast packing weren’t my only proud moments in 2015, they certainly were high on the list.

I grew up in the mountains. And by mountains, I mean literally, on top of a mountain with no running water. I’ll expand more on that scenario in later writings. To sum up, the mountains are my happy place, and I grew up running up hills and along deer trails.

My previous partners were never as passionate about the outdoors as I was, so I compromised. Instead of me saying “I need this, and you don’t have to participate” I simply followed suit with their interests. Then I felt like I had to have someone with me to do what I wanted… who does stuff alone, right? Well, I started to. I decided I was my own best partner!

In May I decided I was going to explore in 2015. Instead of spending $2000 on one vacation, I thought money would be better spend on something that I could explore with again and again. I’ll be getting a great dividend check from REI this year! I started doing research on gear and planned some backpacking trips. The Pacific Northwest is so incredible, “traveling” within my own back yard seemed certainly adventurous enough!

My first trip was life changing. It was only three miles up to Olallie Lake, but it was a safe place to try out all my gear for the first time. I would have time to set up, try everything, and if something failed I could easily get back out before dark. I may be comfortable in the wilderness and confident of my abilities, but I was well aware that I was by myself and I wasn’t going to be stupid about it. Thinking back I laugh at myself, but I remember tearing up that first mile towards the lake. I did this all by myself. I had enough gear with me to survive well beyond my overnight plans. I was proud.

When I got to the lake, I spent the day trying my gear, reading, exploring the area, and smiling. Lots of smiling.

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I was hooked. My next trip was up to Ridge Lake via Kendall Katwalk. This was only 7.5 miles in. Trail runners were blasting past me in both directions and I thought they were amazing. Back in March I was excited when I could run 3 miles on a trail without stopping. I wanted to be like them. But this day I was just plodding along, taking pictures every 1/2 mile because… well… this:

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Next was Gem lake. Cliche, like my first two, but it was still early June and it wouldn’t be too busy.  Gem lake won my heart, and I will be going back this June, but probably as a day run. Who would’t want to see this again?

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Next was my first two-nighter. Upper and Lower Lena Lakes. Lower Lena was only 3 miles in or so, but it was a long drive there, so I figured that would be good. Upper Lena was another 5 miles up. Up. UP! I had the most weight on my back ever, and the trail was so steep. There were a few times I was wondering what the hell I was doing out there by myself with this silly pack on. But then….

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And then…

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Worth every step. This was just prep for my next big adventure. I planned on doing the high divide loop over 4th of July weekend. My permit was for two nights – the loop was 19 miles… I needed three days, right? Work called and I had to shorten my trip to one night. I’d never gone this distance before. I had a sinus infection. My knee was screaming at me from Lena Lakes. I decided I’d rather be sick and in pain on a mountain than at home in my apartment, so I went.

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This has been my favorite trail to date. It was worth every step, and I plan to run this trail in 2016. This was by far the best “Independence Day” of my life.

My year kept getting better, but since this brings us to July, I will save the remainder of my 2015 adventures for my next installment.

Cheers!

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