I want to skydive.
It terrifies me, and I'm not sure I actually want to do it. The idea of leaping out of a plane at 12,000 feet with only a piece of cloth to prevent my imminent death is unfavourable, to say the least.
But I do want to write about it, and I've learned that I can't write about what I don't know. So yes, skydiving it is.
When I met Krista, editor of the Fernie Fix, for coffee one morning five years ago, I was nervous. I pitched an idea to her about an adventure column, hoping to write about things I'd never done despite growing up in Fernie. After a six-year hiatus, I came home desperate to escape the city life, ready to trade in glaring lights and non-stop traffic for enormous mountains and starry nights.
Krista was more than supportive. By the time our cups were empty we had compiled a small list of prospective columns set to last me six months.
This month marks five years. I'm incredibly humbled, and proud.
I have written 60 different adventure stories since that coffee date. Among them are many favourites; hiking the West Coast Trail with my best girlfriends while watching whales play offshore, flying upside down in a warplane buzzing on adrenaline, wandering through the colourful highlands of geologically stimulating Iceland, and camping alone in the woods with 40 mm of rain for company.
The last one wasn't as much for fun as it was a desperate search for something to write about. Thankfully, soaking up water with the pompom of my toque and hearing imaginary monsters in the woods made for a good story.
I'm sure skydiving will too, my cheeks flapping in the wind as I fall – I might pass out. Or a hunting trip, likely the first and last time I will don florescent orange attire. Going paint-balling is at the top of my list; I can just imagine crawling through the grass on my hands and knees, hiding behind trees, firing paintballs at my friends and comparing violet and black bruises afterwards. Just thinking about it gives my heart a little flutter.
The three-day Tanglefoot Trail near Cranbrook, which connects Cliff Lake to the Mause Creek drainage, has been on my list for years. I'd love to pitch a tent across from Mount Robson, or sit atop the Nublet in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. And yes, I realize I talk about it every year, but one day I will find the courage to ice climb.
Until then, I look forward to even the smallest of trips. Sometimes they leave the largest impact.
This past fall my friend Brooklynn and I hiked overnight to a mountain lake we'd never seen before – Welsh Lakes. The teal blue water reflected the basin's limestone walls and the yellowing larch trees blanketed in fresh, gentle snow.
The two of us pitched our tent along the lake and sat on the rocks to cook dinner. We tried to ignore the high winds and rain that whipped the nylon of the tent all night, and drank wine to sooth our nerves. In the morning we built a raging fire to keep us warm.
I remember sitting around after breakfast, tucked behind tiny trees from the wind and sideways rain. I thought about how great it was that just the two of us were up here, two women in the woods – girl power! – capable of facing almost anything, except grizzly bears.
Later that morning we hiked up a ridge side in search of landscape views. We found them, and shortly after found fresh, purple grizzly bear scat. Soon after that we heard large, menacing rustles in the woods nearby. We promptly packed up our tent and headed for home.
But that one night in the woods with my friend rejuvenated my soul for many, many months.
That's the thing about adventures, they are best when shared – with friends, with a dog, with a community, with someone sitting down to their morning coffee. And most definitely, with soul sisters who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and sleep on the ground.
Cheers to adventures.
I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported my column over the last five years. Thank you to my friends for hiking mountains with me. Most importantly, though, is a thank you to Krista and Vanessa at the Fernie Fix for always encouraging, reassuring and inspiring me, for giving me the freedom to write honestly.