Time to jump in the brine

Inspired, intrigued, in awe, and maybe just a little bit envious of a memoir I read recently, I couldn’t help but dive deeper. The author’s story spoke to my unquenched thirst for what’s to come down the road, to my endless curiosity, to my competitive spirit, and to the opportunity to explore if there is (or isn’t) a piece missing from my 1,000+ piece puzzle.

Think Eat, Pray, Love meets Outside Magazine meets Lonely Planet. Page after page, the author’s words shared a story of risk and reward, of tenacity and perseverance, of humility and courage, of exploration and of comfort in the familiar, all while striving for a pre-determined goal.

I laughed out loud, I teared up, I saw many parallels to my own life along her journey. In her words, she “raised the restraining device.” She left her comfort zone. And since her journey, which she called The Vertical Feat came to its end, she has become a force to be reckoned with guiding others on their own.

I don’t recall ever having been ninety-percent packed three days before leaving on a trip, yet this time it was different. There I was this past weekend meticulously preparing my gear to ensure I would be able to ward off potentially cold or rainy weather, and probably every insect known to mankind as well — primarily ticks, which apparently are ‘a thing’ in the northeastern-most parts of our country.

Friends who know me can picture the impeccably organized packing list grouped by category. Pants and shorts. T-shirts. Base layers. Outer layers. Jackets. Socks and undies. And… wait for it… hats. Each item highlighted as it’s put in my bag. Those items to be thrown in at the last minute are circled, and those with stars or smiley faces absolutely-not to be forgotten.

I’m starting to wonder if this adventure originally scheduled for late-summer 2016, which was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances and then again put off in 2017 because of a work obligation — was simply meant to happen now. Now during what I coined back in January as my “Year of Hell Yes.”

2018 has certainly lived up to its name in many respects, and there are still 110 days to go.

Today I boarded that flight bound for Boston — from Boise — via San Francisco — en route to New Hampshire. Because when you live in just the right size up-and-coming city in the Pacific Northwest, you occasionally fly southwest to go northeast. New England in the fall, albeit likely a couple of weeks early for the vibrant autumn colors I long to see, I have no doubt I’ll be captivated by the unfamiliar landscapes, colors, textures, and tastes. And they’ll fuel my spirit and my soul.

Destination: REI Outessa. Defined as “deeply fun and wildly personal.”

A multi-day retreat designed for women to enjoy the outdoors, meet new friends, try new things, and let’s be honest — enjoy cool perks from some of the hippest brands in the outdoor industry. I’ve never been one drawn to ‘all women’ events. I grew up a tomboy, played all the sports, most of my friends have been of the opposite gender for much of my life.

And so I find myself venturing into a bit of an unknown — solo — to meet up with a couple hundred women from across the country who’ve decided to do the same. I’m excited to experience it all in the company of those who are at this moment, complete strangers. I wonder what has driven or compelled them to take this trip? What place are they coming from? And not just geographically. I’m sure for many it’s simply this — just get outside and play!

But is there an underlying urge, need, curiosity, experience, or otherwise that has led them to this place? And why exactly am I here? I could speculate about a whole slew of reasons why, but I don’t think I’ll truly know until I soak everything up over the next few days, swish it all around, see what it tastes like, and go from there. It may be like summer camp. Or it may lead to extraordinary things. Or it may be one clue about that missing piece in my jigsaw puzzle. Or it may tell me there isn’t one, and that the pieces are all there for me to arrange into a picture I have yet to paint.

I know one thing for sure. I am over the moon to meet the author of that memoir, as she’ll be helping lead the charge this weekend in the White Mountain National Forest. And from there… we’ll get in the brine and start the pickling process.

“Truth is an adventure. You should go on it.”
Steph Jagger

#unboundbook #greatbigjourney #stephjagger