Here we are! The final days of my 20's and I'm not too sure how I feel about it. It feels like just yesterday I was celebrating my 21st birthday at my parents house and here I am now, a blink of an eye later in the midst of becoming a thirty year old...
Last week I found myself hiking up Kearsarge Pass on Summer Solcstice in the midst of a breakdown. Despite the beauty that surrounded me, every step I took I wanted to cry. Filled with negativity and thoughts I wouldn't even say out loud for fear of shear embarrassment, I fully embraced the pity party I was throwing myself. As the day progressed, the party grew bigger and my negativity only grew stronger as I questioned my life choices; my work choices, my lack of power in running, my ability or inability to accomplish goals, my strength in said goals, my love life or lack their of and my overall happiness (and Junipers). I was filled with a sense of loneliness that I couldn't shake. Fully aware that I started my period the day before and the ultimate game changer that is the emotions and PMS- I've been given the red flag. If I was playing in the world cup, I'd be out of the game big time. I pride myself on being in control of my emotions or at least aware of any irritability or mood swings that may be occurring, but this time around it was out of my control, I was on an emotional roller coaster and it just wouldn't stop.
Hi emotions, it's me... Sawna- please go away and don't come back any other day.
Despite the fireworks of emotions going through my body, I smiled, talked to each and every hiker that I passed and cheered on my friend Vanessa as she hiked behind me. "This too shall pass" I tell myself. Everyone is entitled to good days and bad days and today is a not so hot one for me. I mean, it's definitely hot- temperature wise but there's a dark and gloomy storm going on in my body that needs to pass. Not to mention my flow this month being so strong I bled through my bathing suit and shorts not even a shear two hours into the hike. Normally I'd say TMI (too much information), but with age I've learned that we all poop, fart, burp, and us females all have menstrual cycles, so why hide anything.
"Breath in, breath out" I tell myself. Things like this happen to girls everywhere, it's just my turn to experience it.
(Photos of Mt. Langely 6.20.18 with Vanessa)
That evening I was in my favorite form of sleeping, on the ground. Just before 6 am Friday morning I woke and instantly thought to myself "Today is going to be a good day". We packed up our cars; I prepared for the days adventure as Vanessa packed to head back to LA. Yesterday I debated whether to go on today's planned run, a 22 mile out and back to Rae Lakes from Onion Valley- thinking it was too risky thinking I should've invested in a spot device if I was planning on running in the back country alone but quickly pushed the thought aside. Today is a new day, and I plan to enjoy every second of it. I sit up and remind myself that you don't have to move mountains. Simply fall in love with your life... be a tornado of happiness, gratitude and most importantly, acceptance. You will change yourself and the world by just being a warm, kind hearted human being not just to others, but to yourself. WELCOME BACK SAWNA.
I began running up Kearsarge with a grin and stoke for what was to come. I realized their was a mile where you had reception and quickly sent a text or two of apologies for my emotional breakdown the day before. Quickly thanking the lack of service the day before for not giving me enough signal to truly portray the roller coaster. Phew!
As a continue toward the pass I think of all the crazy thoughts I experienced during this section and I try to rationalize why I was feeling those specific feelings and quickly brushed it all aside, distracted by the beautiful day that surrounded me. If you haven't been to Onion Valley Campground and the lakes leading up to Kearsarge pass, put it on your to do list NOW. I continued running every step, some sections slower than others depending on the grade of the climb but running nonetheless. As I entered the final section of the climb, an exposed rocky area with swtich backs leading up to the pass, I could hear cheering coming from the top. As I ran the switch backs up and finally got closer to the top, I could see about seven other hikers cheering cheering me on. Finally reaching them they all gave me a high five and congratulating me on my effort. What a welcoming! My fear of running alone getting pushed aside as I stopped to talk to the hikers for a few minutes before continuing on.
Running down from the pass I couldn't help but grin. The last 5 years of running has never been about specific training, setting records or making myself better as an athlete but has truly been about exploring, having fun, sharing experiences with this community of outdoor enthusiasts and how it can make me better as a individual. I may occasionally loose sight of that, perhaps the occasional Strava CR, or my competitive side may take lead for just a moment, but my main priority is to experience what nature has to offer and enjoy it with people that share a similar passion. Going into my thirties, the stoke is high to say the least. I can honestly say these last few years have only grown in high stoke and epic adventures that I can not imagine what my 30's could possibly offer.
The rest of the run is pretty much completely opposite of the day before. My face was sore from smiling so much, my phone filled with at least a hundred photos and countless conversations shared with local trail enthusiasts, whether PCT hikers; Rae Lake loopers, or just weekday adventurers. As I ran over Glen Pass and down to Rae Lakes for a quick dip before turning around, I couldn't help but stop and admire my surroundings. If it wasn't for the blood thirsty mosquito's sucking my blood at every possible second, I would've stayed longer than the few seconds I managed to swat them off for. That day was filled with only excitement and thrill for where my feet and a positive attitude can take me. I was able to enjoy a 22 mile gorgeous run through Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Park up and over both Kearsarge and Glen Pass all by myself. I swam in alpine lakes, made friends with PCTers and even ran into my friend from Los Angeles, Michael Chamoun, at the end of the run and was able to catch up with him. The day was incredible, only to end with a home heated meal at Whitney Portal before the drive home.
I think back about the last decade, my choices, my experiences, the life I chose and despite maybe making a few wrong turns, having to do a couple of u-turns and perhaps crossing the double yellow line a few times(shhhh!)- I wouldn't have it any other way. All those poor choices, all those wrongs, and even all the choices I thought were made in my best interest, all things I would never alter. Those choices, those decisions have led me to this incredible life with the most amazing friends by my side, while making the most insane memories along the way. I wouldn't change anything, not even for a second.
As being a twenty something year old come to an end I made sure to go out with a bang. This week I have and plan on spending it with people I care about the most, whether cooking dinner, snuggling a furry pup even though its 90 degrees out, climbing mountains, drinking beer or dancing the night away at a fiesta themed party- I want to be surrounded with what makes me thrive. Right now I feel stronger than ever, more empowered and excited for what my 30's will bring. All I know is that I'll continue to make every day the best damn day possible- even if it does consist of a few tears.
Mt. Langley 6.27.2018 Rhea's first 14er and real experience with elevation sickness.
SO LETTUCE TACO BOUT A CELEBRATION! Wanna buy me a beer for my birthday, or a tasty vegan dinner or heck a plane ticket to Nepal? (I won't stop you) I've included a support button on my website for you to do just that! As an unsponsored athlete who attempts to work hard but play harder- things tend to add up. Adventuring, gas, races, fueling not only my body by my partner in crime, Juniper, it all adds up. No matter the cost I am determined to continue this exploration of nature, myself and of this gorgeous world a lifelong quest and your small donation significantly helps me make all of it possible- and is very much appreciated!
Shoot, one beverage goes a long way! (especially when it's after a 10 hour day of hiking a friend down from a mountain after experience insane elevation sickness)
Well folks, I'll be turning 30 on the 30th and I couldn't be more excited. Excited to learn and grow with each new experience.
Continue to follow along on the adventure!
(And past adventures! Still have Orcas Island Trail Marathon and Canada Adventure to post STAT)
TIll next time!