The 12 Biggest Lessons I learned From 12 Months of Adventures

I had a pretty good 2015, overall. There were ups, there were downs, but I definitely made the most of it! What’s important is that in each adventure, you learn something. I think in life we should continually be trying to learn everything we can – about ourselves, others, the world, life – all of it! Here are the 12 biggest lessons I learned in 12 months of adventuring.

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New Years Day on Mission Bay

1. January
Adventures don’t always have to be difficult and challenging.

Sometimes, all you need is a tent and some friends, far away from the city. To be fair, if you have a backyard, you don’t even REALLY need to leave home, you could just set up back there – but it does make it more fun to get away! I spent my birthday camping out in Mount Laguna with 3 friends and my dog. It was a relatively warm winter for our local mountains so there was no snow, but of course the weekend we decided to go it was SUPER windy…too windy to sit outside. We spent most of the day in the tent drinking beers and playing games…nothing wrong with that, right? Luckily the winds calmed down a bit when the sun went down so we did get some campfire fun, and some amazing star gazing! We didn’t hike, we didn’t climb (okay, I climbed a short tree stump, but that was it) – we just relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company – and it was perfect!

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Four friends, 2 dogs, food and beer…perfect adventure!

2. February
Some things are worth taking a big risk for.

It’s okay to be choosy, in fact I recommend being choosy (but I’m also an introvert and very selective about the people I let into my life) – but take chances, because often the risk is well worth the outcome. This applies to everything – relationships, work, adventures. Don’t jump blindly, but don’t let fear hold you back from doing something that could be wonderful! I took a big chance this past February, one that terrified (and still does) the bejeezus out of me…..but luckily, it’s been pretty worthwhile so far!  Even got to kick things off with a super fun and challenging hike to the top of Mount Baldy in Southern California thanks to our sad warm and dry winter.

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Top of Mount Baldy – windy, and cold!

3. March
We are all capable of so much more than we realize, and you’ll never realize it until you push yourself further than you think you can go.

I decided it would be a good idea to trek to Everest Base Camp. 40 miles each way, total of 11 days…no biggie, right? But then a gigantic snow storm hit as we set off on our trek and dropped 2-3 feet of snow, which made for a much more difficult trek than any of us had planned for. There were times (many times…) where I was absolutely miserable and thought I couldn’t go on, but these types of experiences always show me that I’m capable of so much more than I think I am. My body hurt, I was exhausted, I couldn’t breathe, I was freezing even in my layers of gear…and all I wanted was a juicy burger from In&Out…but even though it was hard, I was still capable of doing it and that’s such a huge lesson for everything in life. Just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean you can’t do it – and usually the payoff is so much more incredible than it would be doing the easy stuff! Once the storm passed, the views were beyond incredible, and the adventure and accomplishment of this trip is one I will never, ever forget.

4. April
Sometimes rain on your parade can make for the best memories.

Planned a fun trip out to Mount Laguna with a bunch of friends, even though there was a chance of rain. Now, usually a “chance of rain” in Southern California means that it may rain for 20 minutes and then it’ll be clear for a few hours, and then maybe sprinkle again for 20 minutes. Nope! As we sat around the campfire on a misty Saturday afternoon, the skies opened up and didn’t stop for about 12 hours! The 8 of us rushed to our cars, grabbed what tarps and ropes we had, and set up a make-shift shelter. The boys found a log tall enough to turn the shelter into a tent so that the water wouldn’t collect in the center, and we drunkenly created a mini moat around us that was obviously way effective. The night ended around 10pm since we were all tired and tired of being semi-wet, but it was such a fun adventure we won’t forget!

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Makeshift tent, friends, fun…

5. May
Some of the greatest adventures are those that involve simple short hikes, naps, and quiet drinking by a lake.

Once again, our mild winter and unseasonably low snowpack allowed us to get up into areas of the Sierras that we normally wouldn’t be able to access. Decided to do a quick weekend up to Inyo National Forest to explore the Onion Valley area. Our trek started out with a bit of snow, but after we setup camp, ate lunch, and took a nap – the snow was mostly melted! It was a beautiful trek, and gave us some much needed relaxi-time. While researching the area, we had planned to hike up onto Kearsarge pass, figuring that we needed to make the trip more adventurous and extreme than a quick 3-4 mile hike to the campground, but once we got there we both agreed that naps sounded like a much better idea – and sometimes, that’s perfectly okay. Make your trip what you want it to be, not what you think it should be.

6. June
Sometimes, a small change is all you need.

I was lucky enough to be invited on a friend’s boat to learn how to sail – and I love it! There’s such a science to feeling the wind and reacting to every shift, and it is so peaceful out on the water – but it’s amazing how the tiniest change to the wheel or the sails can make all the difference in your speed. No big movements needed –  well, unless you’re turning the boat around which I guess could relate to life too – most of us can keep going on our path with minor tweaks and adjustments, but sometimes you just need to make a big move and head in a different direction. Went on to join the crew in some boat races and even got to see some amazing dolphins swim right underneath us! Looking forward to some warmer weather so we can get back out there real soon.

7. July
Mother Nature has all the fireworks I need!

Most people want fireworks and BBQs on the fourth of July. Me? I wanted to get the heck out of dodge. I recruited a few friends to join, and we headed up to the Mineral King area of the Sequoias. We backpacked about 5-6 miles out to Mosquito Lake #2 and setup camp with nobody around us! Got a little sprinkling of hail, scaled a bunch of boulders for some adventuring, caught a few very small fish (and threw them back), and somehow avoided a huge thunderstorm that passed us by, but that we were able to watch and enjoy – Mother Nature gave us legit fireworks! It was such an incredible trip with such great friends.

 

8. August
A bad ending doesn’t have to negate the awesome.

Took a trip out to Colorado and got to do a bit of camping in the Turquoise Lake area, about 2 hours from Denver. Had some small passing showers, but mostly enjoyed a beautiful weekend with some incredible views! Even got to do some horseback riding and finished the weekend with a full rainbow on our way to the airport….which sadly then meant delayed flights and not getting into San Diego until 5am (after being routed to land in Ontario, CA (near San Bernardino) and bussed down to San Diego)…but Southwest made up for it with some lovely vouchers! It was a terrible evening stuck at the airport, and I was anxious and uncomfortable on the flight and bus home. But, shit happens. That doesn’t mean that our weekend was any less perfect, it just meant we had a small bump in the road to deal with. What I will say is that the Southwest employees that had to deal with the crazy humans were amazing. There was one blonde chic and her husband yelling at the attendants at the desk “what storms?? We don’t see any storms! You’re lying!”. I really wanted to walk up to her and show her the radar, or bring her to the window where there was a light show going on for at least 3 hours. Our pilot’s previous flight had to land in Colorado Springs because of the storms, and we had to wait for him to be able to take off and get back to Denver. So please try to always remember that the people you’re yelling at are humans with feelings and generally doing what they can – in other words, BE NICE!

9. September
It’s okay to do nothing sometimes.

Looking back, it seems September was relatively quiet on the adventure front! We did get some more sailing in (this was when we got to see the dolphins), but overall just got to lay back and relax…which is so important to do sometimes. I love adventuring, but sometimes I end up planning so much that it just wears me out. So, it’s nice to sometimes have a month of doing nothing. It’s also important to allow yourself to do nothing without feeling bad about it.

 

10. October
Honesty is the best policy…and cops respect Tremors (the movie).

Back to Onion Valley, and more snow! This time it was pretty clear hiking out to Flower Lake – we got a few passing “showers” of what we pretty much lightly frozen rain, but it never lasted more than 10 minutes. Enjoyed my dehydrated meals around our kitchen (a large boulder), and ended up getting dumped on right after our morning coffee the next day with a huge snow storm. However, we did get to see the movie museum in Lone Pine (apparently they film a LOT of movies there because it’s so close to LA), and our one friend got out of a speeding ticket because he told the cop, rather honestly, that he was speeding to “try to get to the Tremors museum before it closed”. No lie. That was the truth. The cop gave a little chuckle, and I think realizing that they weren’t looking for trouble, let him know with a warning. Overall, it was a delightful weekend and my friends have learned that if they adventure with me, it’s likely that we’ll have some crazy weather.

11. November
I am incredibly grateful for those who fought to preserve our National Parks and Forests, and to those who continue to keep them clean and safe.

Friendsgiving!! My favorite time of year. This year’s group was much smaller than last year – only 6 of us vs. last year’s 23 – but it was just enough to have a fantastic time. We ate delicious Thanksgiving food, drank delicious spiked cider, had hilariously delirious conversations, fell while ice skating more than once, and enjoyed the incredible granite and snow covered trails of Yosemite! All of this was possible because there were people who cared enough to fight a long time ago to protect and preserve our land. Could you imagine how these parks may have been torn down and developed with condos and malls had they not? Teddy, John….I thank you.

12. December
Life can adapt to most anything, so can we.

Finished off the year with a quick day trip out to Joshua Tree for some guests from Colorado (the ones I visited in August). They had never been, but unfortunately the Santa Anas were quite cold that day and we had a wind chill down to about 20 degrees. We did enjoy a short little hike, but mostly enjoyed the views from inside the car where it was nice and warm. The most amazing part of Joshua Tree National Park is how a landscape managed to evolve to be able to survive in such harsh conditions with such little water. Did you know that the Joshua Tree (Yucca Brevifolia) grows roots that reach up to 36 feet deep, and that they depend on a good winter frost? It’s amazing! And, on top of that, there are so many creatures that depend on the Joshua Tree. It’s incredible to learn about how well nature evolves, and if it can do so, we can too!

 

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