Discovering the Undiscovered | Guide to Remote Adventure
While it might sound oxymoron-ish of me to write about “Discovering the Undiscovered”, that is exactly what I’m going to do.
I Spent Years…
Unsure of how to really explore the surrounding areas, typically hearing about ONE good place and digging my roots there.
I rarely ventured far from the path, pretty content with the familiarity that the surrounding areas me. I’d repeat the same drive, meander the same trails and be satisfied.
Even though I stuck to a routine, I appreciated every aspect of these trips– the monarch butterflies fluttering about in the summer, the way the peepers would quiet as you neared them (only to sound off seconds later), and every weather pattern between the wind and the rain to the sun and the snow.
I loved nature and I loved nature by myself, for myself.
That’s When I Decided…
To set a goal to experience beyond that one windy path. I loved that path, and I would revisit often– but at that moment, I needed more.
I created a challenge that read: “I will visit the top of 50 different mountains in the year 2016”. Length and difficulty were no objective for this challenge, the more variety..the better!
I needed to experience more alone time in nature.
…and that is exactly what I did (with my two pups of course; Boone & Crockett).
The List was Endless…
It was exciting to see how many mountains towered around my hometown. I decided to start small with those I was more familiar with and then work up to grander, lesser known areas.
I remember making my way to the Adirondacks, only vaguely familiar with the area. I pulled over on the side of the road (first car parked!), strapped my pack to the back, grabbed the boys and made my way up Giant Mountain.
I knew little of the 46er challenge and even less that I was hiking one of the mountains considered a “high peak” until people started asking me what number I was on.
I stared in disbelief, unsure of how they would know I was doing my own 50 different peak challenge. Reality check– they didn’t. I was quickly informed, yet unaffected.
I wasn’t doing this to bag peaks. I wasn’t doing this to earn a patch or praise.
I was doing this for accomplishment. I was doing this for my health and I was doing this to experience natural beauty with my two pups. Everything else was a total bonus.
Some of My Hikes…
Were populated with smiling faces, others completely desolate. I held a special place in my heart for both, but the quieter hikes really allowed time for growth, creation and reflection.
The wilderness was my meditation and I was able to practice twice a week.
The first thing I learned while actively pursuing mountains, was that until you experience the mountain and all of its glory– do not expect anything.
Alltrails became my best friend as I googled more mountains to hike, yet I would not look at pictures, only descriptions and directions on how to get there. I liked the surprise! It allowed for me to be prepared, but not doused in too much information, reviews and expectations.
I liked it this way.
Fast Forward a Few Months…
And I not only visited the tops of 70 different mountains, but also hiked over 100 mountains that year.
I was able to make memories with my boys and visit mountains only locals knew about. I said ‘Yes’ to every hiking opportunity I could find and fell in love.
I fell in love with the process, the effort, the view and everything in between.
Every car ride there was filled with excitement and every car ride home filled with energized happiness. Total bliss.
Finding the Mountains…
Was the fun part. Maybe you are wondering how and the easy answer is I lived where mountains are abundant. It would have been harder to not find the mountains.
The in-depth answer is I researched, a lot. I used the Alltrails app (as I mentioned before), I studied maps of my area and collected books that would offer insight to different hikes (along with various levels of difficulty).
The more I hiked, the braver I became. I would click the “lightly trafficked” filter on the Alltrails website in hopes of finding mountains off the beaten path.
This opened up my world. I was able to explore something entirely to myself. Some would say I was also taking more of a risk by being out where there was no traffic, no smiling faces– just me, my two dogs and the vast wilderness. I felt blessed.
There were plenty of times I couldn’t even find the mountain I wanted to hike and that is when I google mapped the area, found green and headed towards it!
It is easy to stay content, but goodness you are missing out on so much.
While I enjoy the trails to myself, there are so many lesser known mountains just waiting to be explored.
Whip out your phone, go to google maps and look at all the green areas that surround you. Go explore one of them! The more you adventure, the more you will find.
Start small, stay safe and breathe in the fresh air– it’s great for your health!
Ciara, Boone & Crockett