unpacking is messy.

Five days and four nights of Patagonian trekking and camping in Torres del Paine started a week ago today – and flew by in the blink of an eye, as I knew it would. I’m certainly different now from the girl who stepped into that adventure one week ago, and really, that’s one of many takeaways I love about time in nature. Disconnecting from what has become the hustle and bustle of life allows for infinite genuine connections with ourselves, the people around us and some of the most important parts of this planet we’re so lucky to call home – and Torres del Paine is one special place.

I carried so much on the trail with me throughout those five days. Some anticipated. Some unanticipated. It’s been an emotional adventure, to say the least, and I am grateful in the depths of my soul for every step of the journey. Quite literally. It was amazing to see the expanse of the park on Monday as we drove back to Puerto Natales. The postcard view was something we hadn’t yet seen, and as we drove further from the mountains, we could more or less see all the ground we’d traversed as each mountainous benchmark became visible. Every day. Every kilometer. Every memory. It’s crazy how time flies and, really, how the world can feel so small and ginormous all at once.

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spending the night on Table Mountain in Overseers Cottage

Our Overseers Cottage adventure on Table Mountain is by far one of my favorite moments from my month in Cape Town, and as is the case with most adventures, this story doesn’t start with the trek itself. It starts roughly three days before — when I knew nothing of Overseers Cottage.

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sleeping outside, waking up in nature

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. There’s just something to waking up out in nature that nourishes my soul. That tickles my toes.

I’ve woken up in a sleeping bag in a tent on South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan; tucked somewhere behind the Tetons in Grand Teton National Park; in camping spots in Big Sur, on Mt. Tam and overlooking the Pacific near Jenner, California – sometimes with LBK, my lovable deaf cat; among thousands of other campers in Yellowstone and Yosemite; in a cave in the Sierra de la Ventana in Argentina; and – perhaps my favorite – in a sleeping bag and nothing more in between two towering walls of rock alongside the Colorado River in the mighty, beautiful, breathtaking Grand Canyon.

This morning I find myself snuggled beneath three fleece blankets in a hammock on the second-floor porch of a cabaña in the Andes Mountains near Jardín, Colombia. From where I rest my head, I can see the top of a mountain. A few clouds are creeping over it, hanging out. No one is in a hurry here. Not even the clouds.

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camping in La Cueva de los Guanacos in the Sierra de la Ventana

Last weekend, my roommate Ida and I traveled from Buenos Aires to Tornquist to camp in La Cueva de los Guanacos, which lies in the shadow of Cerro Tres Picos in the Sierra de la Ventana. This was a relatively spur-of-the-moment trip, and it’s safe to say I couldn’t have done it without Ida as most of the information online regarding this particular camping spot and what it takes to get to the cave is in Spanish — and my Spanish, especially for camping in remote Argentinian locations, is still progressing.

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rediscovering my balance, and myself, in the Grand Canyon

Night one. Mile 18. As I walk away from the campfire and circle of chairs, I gaze up at the stars and dark canyon walls. I can’t imagine how much taller these walls will get, how much further we have to travel.

I look down again and turn on my headlamp. The bright glow reveals where others are sleeping. I’m cautious to walk around them, my steps uneven in the sand. I can hear my dad snoring as I grow close to our family’s spot for the night, a mini bluff above the river.

Near my tarp, I dig my journal out of my dry pack and scribble, “Can’t believe how far in we are and how far we have to go.” A generic comment. I’m tired, don’t give it much thought. As I settle into my sleeping bag and let my head sink into my pillow, I continue to study the stream of stars above.

The dark canyon walls provide a focused view of a sky I’ve seen many times in many places. In the coming days and nights, I’ll realize my time in the Grand Canyon is also providing a focused view of me.

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