The stuff that lifts us up


A mid-run hug.

We talk about outdoor gear a lot here at Trailspace. But there's one thing I carry on all of my outings that doesn't get discussed as much as tents, stoves, and packs. That's family. Loved ones. I've realized I carry them along on all of my outdoor adventures, usually figuratively, but also at times literally (I have two young kids).

These are the people who support you—whether they're out there with you or back at home—and who often make those outings possible, or at least more enjoyable. They might join you on the trail or the climb. Carry the tent and the food. Or they may watch the kids, water your plants, mail out supplies, or simply smile encouragingly at your photos and tales when you return.

When I run, hike, or ski, often alone, it's deceptively easy to think I'm completely independent. After all, I'm responsible for myself, my safety, my experience. No one's out there carrying me. But my experience isn't solitary. Someone is watching the children, getting the job done, buying the energy bars and trail mix, waiting to ask, "how was it?"

You probably can go it alone, but supportive family and friends keep it from being lonely. They even can lift you up higher.

My toddler was my regular training partner and official weight load when I prepped for Rainier two years ago. My son made me a finisher's trophy out of recycling after my first trail ultra; it sits on my dresser. When I crossed the 1,000-annual-miles-run mark last year, my husband and now-preschooler surprised me, appearing in the middle of a long run with a celebratory toilet paper banner.

That's love. The daily gestures that say, "go ahead, go out there and be you. I'll be here when you come back." Or, even better, "let's go together." If you're lucky enough to have that, say thank you right now.

I'm not one to give others relationship advice. I have had outdoor moments with my spouse—at the top of a steep, icy bowl; when the canoe was ripped in half (literally); when one of us realized on an exposed ridge in a thunderstorm that the rain shell was at home—that are not the stuff of Valentine cards.

But, here are a few personal thoughts on outdoorsy love of all varieties:

  • Life is an accumulation of moments. Be thankful for the daily support, not just the grand romantic gestures.
  • Give back time and respect in equal measure (even if their thing is not remotely your thing).
  • Bring along chocolate. It makes everything better indoors and out.
  • Realize even if your partner, child, or best friend is also outdoorsy, that does not mean you will always have the same outdoor goals, abilities, or interests. Sometimes you'll want to go faster, slower, or in a different direction.

What matters is that you end up back at the same place, still liking, loving, and supporting one another.


Filed under: People & Organizations

Comments

Patman
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February 14, 2012 at 8:23 a.m. (EST)

Great read Alicia. Thank You.

 

And Happy Valentines day!

 

(and I bet that mid-run hug was better than "five hour energy"...lol)

Seth Levy (Seth)
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February 14, 2012 at 8:24 a.m. (EST)

This is quite sweet Alicia.  What a wonderful way to start Valentines Day!

omatty
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February 14, 2012 at 9:03 a.m. (EST)

very nice read! makes me miss my kids while i'm at work

gonzan
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February 14, 2012 at 10:15 a.m. (EST)

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours, Alicia. Thank you for the authenticity you share with us. 

giftogab
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February 14, 2012 at 10:39 a.m. (EST)

NICE! All the gear in the world is meaningless without our loved ones. I truely enjoy the people that populate my outdoor fun!

Alicia
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February 14, 2012 at 12:27 p.m. (EST)

Thanks, everyone. It's something I've been wanting to write for a while, well before Valentine's Day. It's good to stop periodically and be grateful.

I'm very glad each of you you enjoyed the piece. I also hope everyone here has someone that gives them the necessary love and support to do what moves them.

Erich
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February 14, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. (EST)

There have been so many moments to recall. One that stands out was when my then 7 year old son and I paddled a chute on the Yakima River. He was nervous at first, but afterwards, he turned around, beaming and said, "Dad, thanks for taking me canoeing".

Rick-Pittsburgh
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February 14, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. (EST)

I read this earlier half asleep but waited to chime in. 

Years back an acquaintance of mine purchased a large amount of land in Wv. All wooded and we were always bailing from Pittsburgh to head down there on the weekends or when time permitted.  

Well, my wife decided to come along on one of the trips. We invited her a few times but she took these trips as the "boys" time so she demurred.

Now keep in my mind we always viewed Tracey as not being the outdoorsy type at all. Plus she has back problems, among other things so sleeping on the ground was going to be tough sledding for her.

I still have the visualization of her in a pair of tan work boots, denim bib overalls, and a pink hat. 

Anywho, there were 4 of us and we were just exploring the land. So nightfall came and went. We listened to owls communicating back and forth across the ridges. 

While we stared at the stars I played narrator telling my wife that the owls were husband & wife and were arguing over an odd credit card bill that came in the mail from one of the misses trips to the mall.

We laughed and joked until we fell asleep.

Well I woke up the next morning and no Tracey. 

So I get up(mind you it was early in the morning) do the morning rituals of getting motivated and climb out of the tent. I walk over to the fire to make some coffee and there she was... With a spatula in one hand, a book in the other in a chair by the fire.

When I get closer I noticed that she was working on a smorgasbord of treats(sausage, eggs, bacon, and a whole slew of other stuff.)

She made breakfast for everyone. 

It was at this time she designated herself as the camp cook and needless to say we all ate very well when we were down in Wv.

I was always asked if and when we decided to go down to the property if Tracey was coming. She became quite popular. 

From that point our whole perspective changed about Tracey and she has loved being in the outdoors ever since.

Now if I could only get her to go on one of my distance trips. I really don't enjoy cooking(j/k ;)

Very good read Alicia. 

giftogab
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February 14, 2012 at 4:46 p.m. (EST)

I remember lieing in a tent with my college roomate and another pal and being too awake to sleep. Sharon was on the far side with Alan in teh midddle. So alan started being the base on a blues riff. I started making up silly blues lyricas and we would switch off every eight bars. I was about 20 and everything in the world made me happy. Sharon married Alan and they ahve been married 25 years now. They are still friends and those nights doing blues in tents were some of my favorite times being a human. They are coming down this fall and we will reprise our blues act!

sarahlampe
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February 15, 2012 at 5:59 p.m. (EST)

I love this, Alicia. 

Amazing too, how the outdoors makes relationships stronger. No distractions of TV, toys, clutter, and chores of the indoors to distract from the company you're with. 

I often credit my first date with my husband (a famous winter ascent of Mt. Washington :-) as the strong foundation of our many years together. I so look forward to all our outdoor outings because it's awesome to share these experiences with the ones you love... and even more incredible to rediscover them through your children. 

Happy trails! 

Callahan
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February 15, 2012 at 6:17 p.m. (EST)

Yep, I would have to agree and is why I carry photos.

Alicia
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February 15, 2012 at 6:55 p.m. (EST)

sarahlampe said:

I love this, Alicia. 

Amazing too, how the outdoors makes relationships stronger. No distractions of TV, toys, clutter, and chores of the indoors to distract from the company you're with. 

I often credit my first date with my husband (a famous winter ascent of Mt. Washington :-) as the strong foundation of our many years together. I so look forward to all our outdoor outings because it's awesome to share these experiences with the ones you love... and even more incredible to rediscover them through your children. 

Happy trails! 

Thanks, Sarah! I'm so glad you liked it.

I think you're on to something, crediting that epic first date to a strong foundation for you and your hubby. We should have an anniversary repeat.

second gear
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February 15, 2012 at 10:45 p.m. (EST)

A very important second date for my husband and me was a hike to Boulder Cave, near Yakima,Wa, and further travel to a barely open Chinook Pass. We have spent many happy hours hiking since. For example, our daughter was 4 months old on her first camping trip two and a half years later.

Thus, we taught our kids how to hike and backpack. Our daughter this summer summited Mt. Adams with her best friend.

My very favorite vacations have been our family backpack trips. As Sarah said, allllll of the other junk of life falls away out there. The best part of our trips was at night when the four of us would shoehorn into a two man tent to play an hour or two of UNO. We did those trips until my son became too tall to fit inside, and had to stretch his legs out the tent door :)

My best friend also loves this outdoor stuff, too, and every summer she and I put the guys in charge and we have multi-day get aways either backpacking or canoeing. She and I have also led several expeditions taking kids from our church Into the wilderness. We've had great fun taking our own kids out, too

There's nothing like the wilderness to knit friendships, heal hurts, and mend souls

Thanks for the reminder to remember the great hugs of the outdoors :)

mimi1949
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February 17, 2012 at 10:52 a.m. (EST)

Great thoughts, Alicia. For me, hiking in the Swiss Alps with 3 generations of family was the best outdoor experience of many years. Being surrounded by such jaw-dropping beauty and getting the perspective of our young grandkids as we hiked was such a high. I am still moved whenever I look at pictures of those hikes.

Alicia
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February 18, 2012 at 8:31 a.m. (EST)

Thanks, Mimi. I agree one is fortunate to have family to hike with, and family who'll help you go out and hike.

The Swiss Alps were spectacular. I could hike there every day.

skibum12
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February 18, 2012 at 6:47 p.m. (EST)

I thought that was a very well written piece that makes you think about what is really important in life.  My wife and I have said numerous times how much a piece of chocolate can make such a difference.  I remember sitting on a cold, damp, chairlift at Stratton Mtn, VT, sitting next to a young boy who was crying next to his father because it was late in he day, he was tired and it was sleeting. His father didnt know what to do or least appeared that way.  I dont have children so who am I to say.   I remember reaching into my ice covered Gortex jacket, pulling out a couple of pieces of Dove chocolate.  I gave one to him, his father and my wife.  He soon started laughing when I told him how the last one down the mountain gets to squirt whip cream on everyone's face at the bottom.  I was thinking of whipped cream in my rum but thats besides the point.  He laughed, loved the chocolate and I think helped out his dad get through the final run.

jptrain
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February 24, 2012 at 10:59 a.m. (EST)

Makes me thankful for my daughter and pregnant wife, who love being outside as much as I do. Cant wait until my kids get big enough for some hiking with dad!

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