The Sherpa-girl in me

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I think I know what I was.  In fact, I’m sure of it.  A Sherpa.  Why?  Because each time I strap on a loaded backpack there is an unusual feeling of content.  The higher the altitude, the better I feel.  Yes, I think somewhere in the cosmos floats a past life of mine, walks a red-headed most unusual looking Sherpa-girl.  She’s been waiting to come down to earth and walk some more.


I’ve been feeling this way the past month.  Going from hard-core road cycling to epic hikes in the Haute Savoie region of France brought this on.  Returning to Utah for a few days strengthened the vibe.  And now, well now that I am back in the glorious Eastern Sierra Nevada of California prepping for a eight-day hiking trip with Peter, it’s gone from knowing to being.


After two years of meticulous focus to detail in road cycling< simplifying to the bare minimum is a relief.  My brain hurts just thinking of bike parts, watts, miles, intervals, nutrition, wheels, frames, eat…sleep….train…. My head feels clearer by the day as we’ve packed up and scaled down to just barely what we need to move through this awesome range.


Thinking about such a trip makes me think of the million and one reasons not to go on an adventure.  Reasons not to get outside of the house into the great outdoors.  These reasons present themselves without fail each time we plan a trip of our own.  Admittedly, our adventures are typically short-notice affairs with little time to plan and prepare.  And our lives, well, to say the least, they are nomadic my nature.


But this one is a special one.  Dear to my heart.  There was no way the multitude of reasons to stay home were going to keep me away from this.  No way.  Not returning to Quebec to find our surface well gone dry because of the draught summer.  Not the massive wasp nest under the front deck that Peter, poor Peter, tried and failed to vacuum up in the wee hours of the morning one of the two days we were there.  Luckily he only suffered one sting, right between the eyes, when the hose clogged up just as he thought the entire nest would get sucked down.


No, not this and not the next wasp nest at our place in Utah in the BBQ.  Not this nest  and not the free offer a few weeks away to chip and haul all the brush and trees you can clear from your mountain home.  I won’t even go into the logistical matrix that makes up my own travel and appearance schedule which, as always, needs constant work.  Then there are the mountains of clothes washed, dried but yet to be folded from trip after trip this past year.


These and countless other things were trying to keep this Sherpa-girl off the trail.  But for this special trail in this most special time in my life, nothing was keeping me from attempting this trip.  You see, fourteen years ago, Peter took me on the very same hike.  I had never carried a backpack let alone slept out in the forest and he suggested this hike on the John Muir Trail.


I remember his friends in the area asking if he was nuts.  They seemed to like me and were worried this was surely death to the new relationship that brought us to the area in the first place.  They thought he was nuts because nobody does a hike this hard, 150 miles long, all way up in the high mountains up to 14,500 feet or so, for their first trip.  I remember Peter saying ‘don’t worry, she’ll be just fine’.  And I was.  Fine for the most part of the ten-day hike.  Loving the time outdoors and soaking in all that nature had on display.


I thought what a nice thing to do again as I step out of life in sport that has all but consumed the last twenty-two years of my life.  A fitting way to enter my 5th decade on earth.  It feels good to be merely a Sherpa-girl after a few decades of trying to be Superwoman.


It feels even better to get rid of all the stuff that has surrounded me the past few years.  No machine, no computer, no speedometer or powermeter: just me, Peter, our packs and the trail.  We’ve gone as light weight as we can and the minimal approach, though challenging, feels right and feels good.  Yes, we’ll be hungry at times.  We may even be a bit cold.  We’ll have our moments (or shall I say I’ll have my moments…) but it will all be okay because we’ve given this time to ourselves and gotten out the door.


The first step is often the hardest but that’s okay.  No schedule, no agenda, just the small path winding it’s way north to south.  And best of all, none of this matters to anyone but us.

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