It has been over two years since I climbed Mt. Shasta. It was my first hugely taxing adventure since getting diagnosed with Lyme Disease and I just absolutely fell in love with being on the mountain. Following that climb, I climbed Half Dome up the Snake Dike route, ran a half marathon and spent the rest of that summer on the trail. Winter came and my health brought my life to a shuddering stop. I stopped almost all physical activity while I focused on my health. Even after I came back, stronger than before, I held off from climbing and running and hiking. Lately, the accounts I’ve been following on Instagram are all climbing and mountaineering and they have awoken this deep desire in me, to live outside, in motion and in the mountains.
I don’t want a building to live in in the mountains somewhere; I want to be in motion across them, up them, around them. This was my dream that I long ago set aside, let it gathered dust until I forgot about it.
As Lyme Disease took me down, I unquestioningly set aside many things I loved to do or hoped to do. I stopped dancing, running, climbing. I stopped traveling. I hardly worked, I rarely saw friends. I stopped these things out of self-preservation—I was that tired, that physically compromised that I unconsciously stopped doing things that were more taxing on my body than I could handle. Which meant that I stopped doing nearly everything beyond sleeping, eating and working. Once I was diagnosed, it was another story altogether. All I wanted was to live and to live hard but every time I tried to do more, I’d land up in bed again for a week or month or two, trying to recover. I was never able to make any goals into the future. Lyme made me live day by day. I was so overloaded with sick that I could never think past right this moment and what I needed to do to get through it. Tomorrow wasn’t promised to me.
Not that tomorrow is promised to anyone but healthy, it is relatively easy to begin to take it for granted, to make plans and set goals and move through the day to day as if you have tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, laid out before you to fill as best you could dream.
In that time, I could barely see through right now to to tonight. I didn’t set goals. I had dreams but labeled them as such: lovely to imagine, impossible that they would ever happen.
Now, years later, I can count on tomorrow as much as anybody and I can set physical goals, which have been the most elusive for me. It is such a gift to be able to make physical goals again and also make goals set far into the future. A month ago, I watched the trailer for Meru and texted my boyfriend: I want to climb Denali!
He responded with a resounding: hell yeah!
Me: 3 years?
Him: maybe 5.
I think we can do it in three.
I grew up backpacking and camping and hiking and I just absolutely love the mountains. For the longest time, while sick, I thought I would never make it back to them and then, when I was in treatment, I forced myself to stop thinking about backpacking again, shoving down the yearning that rose in me each summer so as to not feel the one more thing I was missing out on.
When we climbed Mt. Shasta two years ago, up the north face, and it was astoundingly beautiful. Utterly, astonishingly gorgeous. Hard. Physically and mentally hard. Frightening too to be so high and the mountain so steep. But up there, watching the golden stream of city lights far below and the sun rise from beneath us and the stars so bright, I wanted more.
I can’t wait, not just to get to the point where we climb Denali, but for all the training: the runs and weights and the multiple other mountain training climbs that we will do. I will get my life in the mountains.