I was nervous before we left LA. I wasn’t sure what shape I am in, I was still bit jet lagged and emotional about the whole thing and overwhelmed by my dream coming true. My partner sent me this lovely message in the morning and it stuck in my head and heart since then. He wrote: “Day by day. Step by step. And always remember, this is what you love most.” And as if by magic I felt so comfortable and relaxed. He knows me so well. Months earlier he told me that he knows that I might be the less prepared person for the challenge, but also the one that he has no doubt that would just do it.
Once we got on the trail, I felt moved, happy and alive. I was in my element. Mountains and their vastness make me feel humble and strong at the same time.
Strength was going to be verified in the next days when I was dealing with some serious stomach problems and pains. It was really hard sometimes, but also kept me motivated. I knew that if I could do it, that I could easily do the rest.
I loved hearing people encouraging us and saying that it was going to be our lifetime adventure. It was sweet and needed. But in my head I was thinking: “Oh no, I am just warming up.”
I am sure it is going to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
But since the beginning of this plan I haven’t wanted it to be the best I could do, but rather just the opening for something more and a doorway to something new in my life.
Before we left Independence last week I talked to my partner Wojtek a few times, and I haven’t since then. That’s the difficult part of this trip. We are used to being apart, but we have an established routine of calling each other and connecting in the morning and evening each day. Now I don’t even know how many days have passed since we’ve spoken or what day of the week it is today. But last time we talked we were planning our upcoming climbing time in Yosemite which will take place straight after Erica and I finish this hike. There we will stay for another 6 weeks. Wojtek has been training for over a year for that. I admire his dedication and honest approach to climbing. He mentioned Ron Kauk and his words: “Expand your spirit, not your ego.”
On top of Mt. Whitney I heard people saying that they we’re the tallest ones in America at that moment. It made me think of how differently people face challenges. I know that completing a challenge can make people feel special, but there is so much that can be missed if we only focus on pushing to get there. And in places like this we are allowed to be, discover, explore and enjoy because of our determination, but mostly because nature is a generous host.
On top of Mather Pass we bumped into an older man who immediately began to tell us stories. He was around when Yosemite’s legend was born and climbed with some hard core climbers of that time. He sadly admitted that life took him another direction away from the climbing life so now he was doing what he always wanted to do. I thought at that moment that I never want to make my dreams wait. Not that he did – but I felt deeply in my heart that he showed up to remind me of this. He looked straight into my eyes and said: “These mountains are alive and they are looking at you right now.” And I knew it was true. It is what I always feel. You might call thinking this way some kind of craziness, but it is what is so familiar to me.
I feel more and more connected to nature around. Sense sharpened. I shower every day in the freezing cold water of rivers and lakes and that’s totally enough. In these two weeks I’ve seen my face just a few times when we stayed in Independence, otherwise not, since I don’t carry a mirror but I honestly don’t care how I look.
It feels so liberating and damn good. We are halfway there, 10 days left, I’ve already made new plans – Patagonia seems like a good direction for my next trip.
Second half of our hike had its own pleasant routine. We were sleeping until late as opposed to our „normal” life, when we usually set our alarms for 4:30 a.m.
First thing Erica was on, was preparing our coffee, while I was taking a ‚wet wipes shower’ and organizing things a bit.
Because of cold nights, in my sleeping bag various items had landed: camera, batteries, GPS responder and my iPhone, while next to me on my Thermarest- water fillet and solar charger.
We were having oats with coconut milk powder for breakfasts, topping them with freeze dried fruits and cocoa.
After couple of hours we were ready to start hiking.
During the days, I was admiring nature, trying to remember each landscape with details. In my mind, I was repeating mantras, Ganapati or Gayatri, they became a soundtrack to my steps.
Each day I was thinking of different, inspiring and important woman in my life. Thanks to that, each of them, in a way took this journey with me – my mom, who passed away few years ago, my girlfriends, inspiring teachers and other women who gave me lot of support and understanding in difficult moments.
Usually around 2 p.m. we would stop for lunch, which was tortillas with peanut butter, ramen or hummus. We had planned our meals weeks ahead, trying to prepare them in a most healthy, nutritional and ‚what we eat at homes’ way.
After 40-60 minutes we were ready to continue, usually making another 5-6 miles before evening.
Looking for perfect campsites we needed to consider: elevation, ho close it was to the water and how far from mosquitos, which was often hard to get all at once.
As soon as we stopped, we would set up the tent and I would send the message with our location from the GPS device, so that our families knew where we were stopping for a night.
Then I would take a sip of „liquid courage” and jump into a freezing river or lake. That was another thing far from my usual lifestyle. Drinking whiskey hadn’t been my thing, but turned out to be the necessary warm up during this trip.
Atter the „bath” was laundry time. Clothes were braver than me making it without whiskey.
Our yoga practice was much shorter and modified compared to what we usually do, but at that time it had to support and balance our new physical challenges.
After some time we started to mix two or three meals for dinners, adding too much water to it, so it was more like a soup type of meal.
We were in the tent, ready to sleep, as soon as the sun was down.
Before falling asleep, I would have a look on the maps, check if the distance estimated for next day was still possible to hike and read a chapter of the guidebook about that part of the trail.
These three weeks of simple life, being surrounded by nature, being challenged and also seeing daily how much I was learning and how stronger, both physically and mentally I became – they left my heart and mind much calmer, filled me with peace and in the same time made me feel that I am prepared and ready for more!
After just 5 days, I am already back in Yosemite, tis time with my love and we’re gonna stay here for over a month of climbing. I am glad that my camp life continues, as I truly loved it.