the long haul

A story of personal growth.

Backstory: Growing up in Spokane, Washington I hardly considered myself ‘outdoorsy’. I went on the occasional hike much like most people in Spokane, but I was very much into playing premier soccer and running high school track. I spent most of my time playing sports, watching movies, and hanging out at the lake. For college, I had the intentions to go to the University of Washington. While they were good intentions, they ultimately weren’t the right intentions. They were intentions set out of the expectations placed upon me since childhood. The most direct path to success. You see, I had felt this subtle pull toward the mystery of the mountains for a long time now. My family had taken ski trips throughout my life. I was mesmerized by the clouds covering the bustling city below and feeling the bliss of the warm sun on my face before rushing at lightening speed downhill with the crisp wind giving me the feeling that I could fly. I craved more of this, a deep desire for adventure. So at the last minute I withdrew my application at UW and set my new intentions on Montana State University. And spoiler alert – it’s been the best spontaneous decision I’ve ever made.

I’ve been extraordinarily lucky coming to MSU because I’ve met so many amazing people who have taught me so many ways to fuel my desire for adventure. I’ve become someone who feels confident taking off for days on end on a trail, flying 50 miles an hour downhill on a bike, and scaling frozen waterfalls. But I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a long haul to get to the point that I’m at now. There have been times when I showed up to a new activity looking like an absolute Jerry. I’ve done everything from climbing in a ski helmet to trail running in my hiking boots. I’ve struggled to overcome fears, to make goals, and to be motivated. I’ve even had a near death experience in a climbing gym, falling 50 feet head first over a concrete floor only to be caught 3 mere inches above the ground. I have been in many situations that have rendered me petrified and I have questioned more than once my involvement in these crazy activities. However, I have also had crazy, uplifting experiences. I have laughed on top of mountains, and I have smiled on long stretches of road. I have skinned above the clouds in the Alps and have climbed in the forests of Germany. I have made many new friends and have been many new places. Ultimately, I am proud that I’ve had my highest of highs outdoors because this is the version of me that I’ve always known was out there. I just had to go find her. 

It’s been a long haul – but this path has given me the freedom to grow into the life I was always meant to live. 

Author:Ashley Meyer