Adventure: Is There Ever Enough?

I’ve been rolling this topic around in my head for a long time, but because I couldn’t come up with a conclusion, I continued to hesitate on writing the post. However, I read Heidi’s blog yesterday regarding the five avalanche deaths at Loveland Pass this past weekend and it sent my brain into overdrive.

Why do I love adventure?

How much do I love adventure?

When will I find my limits? Will I ever find them?

When will I draw the line and determine that enough is enough?

I can’t say that I have always been drawn to outdoor extremes. In fact, when I was younger, it was quite the opposite. My sister was more of the daredevil who played in the mud while I was the ballet dancer wearing tutus. Somehow, college happened and my train derailed when it discovered the great outdoors. Ever since, I feel like I have been constantly chasing my limits.

Bike trip

It started after college with the bike trip. I had never ridden a road bike and didn’t even own one, but I still wanted to cycle across the country….so I did. It took 3,893 miles before I realized that I was completely comfortable with that adventure: it was no longer extreme or daring. If anything, it became my home and worked its way into my comfort zone. So, I kept searching, and ended up in South America.

We climbed unknown peaks in Peru and slept in the Amazon and searched for crocodiles by the light of the moon in Ecuador. We backpacked through Patagonia and explored underwater shipwrecks in Colombia and lived in the middle of the campo in Paraguay and with tribal villagers in a deep canyon in the south of Peru. Sure, it was completely foreign and new at first, but just like before, it eventually became the norm. I realized then that my limits for adventure were unknown. Just when I thought I’d found my new extreme, I’d realize that I had just gotten started.

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Snapped this photo of Steve while we were trekking in Patagonia…and right after a massive avalanche came down the slope behind us

This pattern has continued, and contrary to my younger self’s original thoughts, it isn’t fading away the older I get. I’m 31 years old now and the urge to explore has yet to cease. I continue to travel the world and explore the backcountry, wondering if I will ever find my maximum. Will it happen once I have children? Once I’m married and “settled” down? Honestly, I doubt it. Will loves to explore just as much as myself and we already had a joking conversation about how much weight an 8-year-old child could carry in his own backpack (the consensus was none!)

However, I’m not so naive to think that all of my wanderings and adventure lust can’t possibly end badly. I’m very aware of the fact that I could get into serious trouble on any one of my world travels or backcountry shenanigans. I’ve bribed customs guards in foreign countries and even had a knife pulled on me on an overnight train in Paris (And yes, I almost peed my pants!) A drunk man at a bar in Colombia once took offense at my nationality and got all up on me, screaming and shoving me against the wall. My face was covered in his saliva before the other men in the area pulled him off of me and kicked him out of the bar. I’ve never been caught in an avalanche like the five unfortunate boarders in Loveland, but I’ve witnessed a few and triggered even more. I’ve even been inside a snow cave when it collapsed and filled my mouth with snow. Luckily, I wasn’t under for a minute before my firefighter friend pulled me out, but it was enough to remind me of my mortality. Y’all, it sucks to get your breathing taken away from you!

My point is this: adventure is part of who I am and I believe that it is in my soul. Honestly, I don’t fear much in this world, and I think that it helps me in this regard. It helps me live the life of my dreams. However, when do you draw the line that tells you when your inner explorer needs to step back and let realism take the lead?

Helen Keller

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Do you have a lot of fears in your life?

23 Comments

  • Reply Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem at

    I think I have settled down a lot since I got married and had kids. just when I was really getting started too. I miss adventuring in the back country but am excited to share it with the kids when they get a little bigger too.

    • Reply heather at

      I’m excited to see how you combine it with your children– I know that will be my path one day, but I’m not yet sure as to how I’ll handle it.

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    I REALLY like this post. Although I consider myself adventurous, I’ve got nothing on you…especially when it comes to heights and pushing limits. I’m more of a “domestic” explorer but I see exactly where you’re coming from. Contrary to what so many people think I feel that I’m becoming more adventurous as I get older…wanting to try more and more things. I too understand the risks involved and I think that’s the big thing. Understand risks and make somewhat calculated decisions to avoid those risks becoming a problem.

    • Reply heather at

      Disagree, friend 🙂 You push your limits just as much; I think the only difference is that everyone’s limits are personal and individual. Know what I mean?

  • Reply Amanda @runtothefinish at

    What I’ve tried to tell my parents when I do something new or even just run in the dark is people die every day just driving their car or crossing the street…life happens so we might as well make choices which are going to make us happy. We can certainly take steps to make it as safe as possible, but that doesn’t mean a bubble 🙂

    I love your adventures and have been figuring out how to do the Big 5 Marathon since you mentioned it. I think 2014 might be it.

    • Reply heather at

      Jealous! I’m still eyeballing that marathon but my 2014 is already booked up(yes, seriously, this is insane). Maybe I’ll check it out for 2015!

  • Reply misszippy at

    I can say I am not nearly as brave as you and could never do the things you do. But I think it is totally awesome that you do them…I think people like you have life all figured out, honestly!

    • Reply heather at

      I sure don’t feel like I have much figured out 😉 But thank you all the same!

  • Reply Lynn at

    I try to balance doing the adventurous things I enjoy with being as safe as possible, ie always wearing a helmet (sometimes even a full face one) and other safety gear, always letting multiple people know where I’m going if I go by myself somewhere.

    Also, I totally agree with Amanda. I hurt myself playing volleyball (a “normal, safe” activity) waaaay more than I ever have mountain biking or snowboarding or hiking.

    • Reply heather at

      Fortunately, I haven’t ever really hurt myself. However, the older I get, I find myself evaluating the “penalty for failure”, so to speak. That penalty could be massive while backcountry skiing, for example, especially when compared with something like CrossFit. Just trying to figure it out, I suppose 🙂

  • Reply Rochelle at

    You totally hit on an idea that I ponder all the time. Backcountry skiing is one of my true loves and although I’ve taken Avy II, continuously brush-up on backcountry safety, have an EMS background and a lot of backcountry experience I wonder all the time how much is enough. It’s easy to look at so many accidents and know that it could have been me. I don’t have an answer either except that like Lynn I try to control as many variables as possible and have an emergency plan for when things do go wrong. All that said, I’m pretty sure that each of us wouldn’t be nearly as interested in our activities if they were completely safe. Thanks for posting on such a tough topic!

  • Reply Haley @ Climb Run Lift Mom at

    I love that Helen Keller quote 🙂 Life is a fantastic adventure! I think there is a limit to pushing yourself though. I am a mom, but I’m far more adventurous than many other mothers I know. I guess it all comes down to your comfort level. I don’t ever intend on giving up (or paring down) my adventurous lifestyle and my kids are right there alongside me for most of it. And an 8 yr old can carry more than you think! They love the responsibility of it 🙂

  • Reply Natalie @ Free Range Human at

    This is such a great post, Heather. As backpackers, I’m always aware of what could happen in the backcountry. My husband and I talk a lot about what could happen if you don’t respect nature and the fact that it can kill you. But that doesn’t mean it will ever stops us from seeking that next trail. You just have to take the precautions that are needed!

  • Reply Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's at

    I don’t think I could do nearly half the things you do but like Amanda said, we have to make the choices that make us happy.

  • Reply Christine @ Love, Life, Surf at

    Really liked this post Heather. I do have a lot of fears but have gotten better about facing them and not having them paralyze me. That being said, I think that becoming a mom and starting a family has made me think twice about my adventures because it’s no longer just about me, you know?

  • Reply Miz at

    it ISNT ME and yet I love your phrasing of ADVENTURE simply being part of who you are…

  • Reply Kayla at

    Okay, I don’t know what happened, but I can’t read your blog at work anymore…the system has deemed your website unsafe!!!

    I don’t think real adventurers ever settle that need-for-adrenaline-or-unknown-territory feeling inside. Sometimes they have to stop or postpone for one reason or another, but the urge never goes away. Some people are luckier than others……but I guess that’s subjected to what you consider to be lucky.

  • Reply Brittany @ FreckledNettles at

    Just wanted to say that I love your blog. For a traveller like me, it certainly is refreshing to see women with ambition. I used to let fear hold me back, until i learned that embracing fear is what makes big things happen. I’m charging at life every day. I’m looking forward to more posts!

  • Reply Alyssa at

    This makes me feel like I need to get on the adventure boat before I have kids! You’ve done so many amazing things!

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    […] Adventure: Is there ever enough? I always read about Heather’s latest adventures with a good amount of jealousy. Her adventures inspire me, not only because of the gorgeous photos but because her joy, spirit and desire to explore. But she poses an interesting question – when adventure is something that’s is part of you, is there ever enough? […]

  • Reply Eric at

    Adventure on~!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Reply Dave at

    Terrific post Heather! I would contend that an eight year old can carry some gear. I wouldn’t load them down with heavy gear, but a pack with snacks and a change of clothes is plenty realistic for someone as young as five. It also gives him/her the feeling of contributing to the cause. My five year old nephew takes his school backpack when we go on hiking trips. He loves opening it up and going through his fancy camping gear when we stop.

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