Hike 42: Pilot Rock - Ashland, OR


Five days after Black Butte and stopping myself from assuming disaster, we hiked Pilot Rock with my friend Brandi. She had mentioned there was some climbing involved. The climbers I have met talk about solving problems, finding routes, and the challenge of it all. I was interested.

As the trail changed from standard single track through the forest to compressed rock piles above the treeline, I felt my pulse quicken. This wasn't OMG I'M GONNA DIE UP HERE like on Black Butte. This was OMG I AM SO READY FOR THIS. When was the last time I felt that? When was the last time I felt prepared, without first assuming disaster?

I looked at what was ahead, and even though I've never done anything like this before, I felt strangely confident. The last time I felt this unafraid before doing something that looks scary was when I was sitting near the door of the airplane next to Barry, getting ready to do my first jump as a skydiving student. I was confident in my training. My mindset was calm. I had a clear understanding of the task at hand and what I needed to do.

Before that? I felt this when I was rowing at KU.

Both are activities I consciously chose for myself, versus a suggestion or requirement from someone else.

Evaluating the challenge in front of me, I explored all the different ways I could get to my destination. I tried following the route Barry took but it didn't feel good to me. I went around to the other side. It was steep, but I could see a way up. Barry was there, ready to offer a hand. Brandi talked me through which foot and hand goes where, like some mountainside version of Twister.

When this photo was taken, I was all the way present. This required my FULL attention, the same way that skydiving did. And in those environments, I thrive. I'm seeing a pattern; the choices I make for myself, by myself, are the ones that make the biggest impact on my life. Rowing. Skydiving. Adventure.

When I choose things to meet some arbitrary expectation others have for me, I end up resentful.

When I choose things for me, I find joy, peace, calm, confidence.

And I can tell you, joy, peace, calm and confidence all feel better than resentment. 💚