In my head, this is the girl I've always been. Exploring outside, in the sun and the dirt, over rocks and under trees, and - hell yes - in the water. This is the girl whose heart pines for a Jeep. The girl who feels like she's part mountain goat and still hopes to go on a multi-day hiking/camping trip.
Somewhere along the line, we stopped hiking as frequently. Maybe life got in the way. Maybe I got too much up my own teenage ass about the way I should be and how much that didn't include being sweaty and dirty and sunburnt. While I've made some half assed attempts over the years to get back to this place, they've never really stuck.
No matter how much I enjoyed it.
Two rounds of Yoga Teacher Training later...
Last year, we hiked twice up to the same spot under Foresthill Bridge. We took different routes both times, one significantly easier than the other. But when you're (still) so far removed from your fitness and from that girl who was part mountain goat, even the "easier" route sucked. And allergies.
See the red trail? That. We hiked that.
Oh my fuck, the allergies.
There we were, in this gorgeous place, out in the middle of everything I love, and I was miserable. Sure, part of it was because my allergies were making it hell, but part of it was because I was too up in my head with anxiety about the hike back and my allergies and a bunch of other stupid shit that, honestly, I should have let go of so I could actually be in the moment.
This year, again, we hiked twice.
The first time to that same spot under Foresthill Bridge. We took the "easier" route to get there, and then took the long way back out so we could tackle a big climb. While the climb was certainly not easy, it was much easier than the climb was last year, and I managed it with a lot less direct, physical assistance (although I am very grateful to my group, who hung out with me, encouraged me, and gave me a hand up when I needed one).
It was a really awesome day.
On the last day of class, we went on a completely different hike.
Lake Clementine Trail has a long, slow incline with a well maintained trail and lots of shade. It's a beautiful trail and a pretty easy hike. You end up here:
Then you climb down a rocky bank to get out onto the rocks under the waterfall, where we sat in the sun and the mist, exploring, goofing off, taking pictures and having lunch.
I wasn't quite that daring, but I did end up barefoot and climbing all over rocks, taking photos, exploring, and hanging out. It was fun. More than just exploring the area, I was exploring what I was capable of. Reconnecting with my core and my confidence.
It was freeing.
After Clementine Falls, we hiked back down the trail and stopped about halfway down, at a "beach" that was mostly rocky outcroppings above the river.
Jumping into the river started almost immediately.
I hadn't planned to get wet (we were warned before that there would be an opportunity to get in the water). I didn't plan to jump into the river. I didn't want to. I was afraid to. I didn't trust my strength as a swimmer to get back to shore. I didn't trust my ability to climb up wet rocks to get back out.
I am terribly, irrationally afraid of falling.
I stood on that damn ledge for so long.
Other people jumped. I was cheered, encouraged, cajoled. I talked myself into it and out of it and back again. I thought about every video I'd ever seen where someone attempts to jump and falls badly. I thought about how far down I would go once I hit the water. I wondered if I would hit the rock ledge under the water.
I thought about all the things, all the fears, all the irrational bullshit.
And then I jumped, anyway.
It took a really long time to fall.
I could hear everyone talking and cheering for a long time. And, yes. On the way down, I was wondering why I was still hearing words, why I could listen to entire sentences. Then I hit the water, slowing & finally stopping before swimming back up to the top. I made it back to the rocks and, with help, got back up out of the water.
It was really awesome.
It had come down to the understanding that the regret of not jumping would far outweigh the fear of the jump, and that it would last much, much longer.
This is the girl that I want to be.
Dirty, wet, and sunburnt. Over the rocks, under the trees, in the water. Part mountain goat.
But more than that...
I want to be the girl that jumped, anyway.