Chiara Lawrence


Stay Off The Couch

Bariloche, Argentina.

Friday July 17. 8 PM.

I press my toes down onto the bottom of my boots. Nothing. I stop compulsively shaking my legs and feet and try wiggling my toes willing them up and down inside my boot. I am unsure of any sensation other than slow, but that’s encouraging. It’s more than nothing.

Angie is curled around me, the big spoon in our reluctant huddle. One of the three-foot walls of our humble snow-shelter presses in against her back while the other holds our heads at awkward angles from our bodies. My shoulder throbs. The bottom halves of our bodies are squeezed into a single summer sleeping bag. We’re close friends, but this is a new kind of closeness. A desperate closeness I have never felt before.

Angie and I became friends when we both joined the ski patrol at Middlebury College. The irony of the situation doesn’t escape either of us: two ski patrollers with no backcountry gear are immobilized by sheer snowfall and have to spend the night stranded in freezing conditions. We fight to keep the cold out. The zipper on the sleeping bag stops, catching at my waist. It is too small to close any further, but I keep tugging on it compulsively with clumsy, numb fingers.

The second sleeping bag, fully unzipped, is wrapped tightly around our heads and shoulders. The sweat from the day seeps back through my fleece into my fresh base layer and with it the cold sets in. My mouth is dry.

The black expanse above us is clear and scattered with countless stars. I think enviously of their blazing heat and how some of them died many, many millions of years ago. In their final days as supernovas, these stars burned brighter than any other star in the galaxy scattering the stardust that would give life to new stars and planets. And then, they collapsed.

Angie’s breaths are heavy. Twelve hours to sunrise.

In the afternoon on July 10th, after a long bus trip from Valparaiso, Chile, Angie arrived at Home Hostel in Bariloche, Argentina to meet up with me and ski for a couple weeks. We had been planning the trip for a little over a month, exchanging giddy emails about the seemingly endless vertical and bottomless pow we would surely soon be shredding. In reality, both of us had chosen to study abroad in South America at least partly to facilitate our dreams of skiing in the Andes.

I grew up hearing about Bariloche through my mom’s best friend from college; her father, Osvaldo Ancinas, was born there. He was an alpine racer and went on to compete for the Argentine Olympic Ski Team in the winters of 1960 and 1964. When I was a little over two years old my parents brought me with them on a trip to Chilean Patagonia. Of course, I don’t remember anything from the trip but years later I would look at the pictures in our family albums and marvel at the massive spires of Torres del Paine and the rare shots of vicuñas grazing in the highlands. I always told myself I would get back to Patagonia before too long.

Nestled between the foothills of the Andes and the southeastern shore of Lago Naheul Huapi, San Carlos de Bariloche is one of the major destinations for skiing, climbing and mountaineering in Argentine Patagonia. Bariloche is home to Cerro Catedral, both the name of the major ski resort in the area and one of the more prominent peaks. From the top of Cerro Catedral the jagged chain of the Andes sprawls north towards San Martin de los Andes and down, eventually reaching the southern tip of Chile.

On a clear day if you look along the eastern side of the northbound peaks you can see most of the fingers of Lago Naheul Huapi. Just to the east of Cerro Catedral, in the valley below, lies Lago Gutierrez. Many of the trails that run along the western side of the lake connect to other trails leading up to the world-renowned granite spires and the hut, Refugio Emilio Frey that sits just below them. Others lead out to the base of the resort at Cerro Catedral.

Around the same time that Angie reached Home Hostel, where I had been staying for almost two weeks, I was finishing up the day skiing at Cerro Catedral. After a bad fall I was battered, bruised and, as I would later find out, broken. I called it an early day, got on the bus at the base of the mountain and headed back into town.

When the bus reached my stop a couple blocks up the hill from the hostel I struggled to get my gear off. I must have dropped my poles or a glove or appeared completely incapable because the man sitting next to me got up from his seat and helped carry my things off the bus. I smiled sheepishly, thanked him and started to explain. But he just nodded, gave a wink and got back on. The bus drove off.

            Arriving back at the hostel Gabby, the owner, greeted me at the door excitedly taking my skis into the main room while telling me in very fast Spanish that the other gringa, Angela, had arrived. Angie was there! I jogged back to the bunkroom. “Angie!” She turned around from unpacking her things and a huge smile broke out across her face. We hugged each other for a long time laughing with relief and excitement; our reunion in Argentina, so from either of our homes or Middlebury, brought an overwhelming sense of comfort.

Angie and I had been friends for three years; we met sometime in the fall of our freshman year when we were both taking the Outdoor Emergency Care course to become volunteer ski patrollers. She’s tall and slender with enviable long legs and soft brown hair. Her face is gentle looking but striking with huge round blue eyes and a big giggly smile to match. I don’t remember when we actually first met but on the night that we both officially joined ski patrol we were instantly bonded; we were the only two girls in our eight person rookie class.

In the spring before we met in Bariloche Angie was elected to be one of the two presidents of the Middlebury Ski Patrol. She’s quieter and less assertive than some of the other patrollers, myself included, but her dedication and care to the organization is unparalleled. For me, someone who is easily overwhelmed by logistics and staying on top of emails, Angie’s ability to juggle the demands of school and patrol and still having a social life is particularly impressive, especially to someone like me who chronically loses her phone and arrives late to most events or doesn’t arrive at all.

While Angie spent the spring semester studying nursing in Valparaiso I was in Buenos Aires studying public health. I never expected to fall for the city life but it was not until I was saturated by the smell and speed of it that I realized how unsettled it made me, how deeply I longed for the mountains. I pined over them like a brokenhearted teen does for her first love sketching the ranges of home in the margins of my notebooks and sitting in cafes scrolling through photos of the Andes in wintertime.

In the mornings on the subway ride to class I tried to find comfort in the mess of hearts beating around me and the heat of sweaty bodies pressed against my own. But most everyone wore headphones and bitch-faces and so I often retreated into myself to avoid suffocation. I would close my eyes, sway gently inside the jolting subway car, and imagine my family’s ritual weekend drive to the mountains.

We would turn off I-70 onto U.S. Route 40. There, the extra interstate lanes drop off and just a mile past the exit the speed limit falls to 35 MPH. Welcome to Empire, Colorado. Population: 276. We’d pass by Lewis’ Sweet Shop. The shop’s signs look as if they were painted from a jar of assorted jellybeans. If you go, and you should, stop and ask for a small, thick chocolate shake. And try the fried okra. Dwayne Lewis, the original Lewis of Lewis’ Sweet Shop, is, at 92 years old, the oldest living resident in Empire. Across the street from Lewis’ is Dairy King. I don’t remember when we started stopping for shakes at Lewis’ instead of Dairy King on the post-ski drive home, but my mom still swears the Dairy King root beer floats are instant cures for any upset stomach.

There’s not much going on in Empire. One stoplight. A church. For a couple years you couldn’t even rely on getting gas there and a few years ago my sister noticed a FOR SALE sign outside the elementary school building. It has since sold. There is this overwhelming sense of almost, a sort of resigned contentment. The small town lies below the closure for Berthoud Pass; when the roads are bad the residents of Empire get caught on the wrong side, but just barely.

For me the odd little town is a gateway; it is both the link and the division between the rush and heat of Denver and the simpler, more reasonable and less oxygenated cool of the mountains. In the winter, when the snow blankets the collections of rusting lawn decorations and caving in roofs, the almost of Empire is optimistic and fills me with relief. You’re almost there, it says to me, you’re almost to the mountain. We would roll through the lonely stoplight at the end of town and the next speed limit sign reads 55 MPH. From here I know the feel and contour of every turn up Berthoud Pass to the Continental Divide and back down into the valley. You’re almost there.

Friday July 17. 12 PM.

Slept late. Massive overnight snowstorm. Left hut to make it back for 10 pm MRI appointment.

“We should probably get out of here if we’re gonna get back for that MRI,” I say to Angie. She nods, “Yes, definitely.” We agree the new snow will at least double the time it takes to get off the mountain and we already woke up late. There isn’t time for Angie to take any more runs. Anyways, it’s out of the question: the avalanche danger is huge right now and we don’t have the gear or the experience we need. Angie and I decide the move is to eat quickly, pack up, and head out.

We load up the two backpacks: a full Nalgene and another smaller plastic water bottle, extra layers, the two summer sleeping bags and sets of crampons we rented, extra layers, two pairs of sneakers, sketch books and journals, a camera, leftover pizza, an apple, two ham and cheese sandwiches, a bottle of Advil for my shoulder and Mr. Bunny (a stuffed animal I still take with me on trips). Angie has her skis and poles and I have my lone ski pole; we sling up my injured arm again with a pair of my leggings.

As we leave I ask Ian, the caretaker, if I can take a pair of the makeshift snowshoes we’ve been using to get around. They’re oval-shaped pieces of blue plastic with holes cut in them for the straps and tiny inch long screws, most of which are broken off, screwed around the spot where you tie your foot in. They’re more like little foot sleds than snowshoes. It’s clear though that post-holing in my snow boots would make it impossible to get out and so far the snowshoe-sleds have worked for me the past couple days. Ian agrees to let me take them.

Just before we go we sign the guest book. Hasta la vuelta, we write. Until the return.

A large part of the reason that we decided to hike to Refugio Frey in the first place was because I injured myself. If I hadn’t we would have been skiing in Cerro Catedral not romping around outside of the resort with alpine skis and snow boots. In the days after the crash I visited two doctors that both told me I needed to get an MRI, but two of the three MRI machines in Bariloche were broken and the third was terribly backed up; the first appointment I could get was for 10 pm on Friday July 10th, a week after the injury.

Angie skied with my pass for a couple days after she arrived while I tried to keep myself busy. I walked down to Lago Naheul Huapi to sketch the lake and made overly complex and extravagant meals. I visited all the chocolate shops on Calle Mitre to find the best free samples and practiced speaking Spanish without the thick porteña accent I had picked up living in Buenos Aires.

At the end of the day on Monday July 13th, I texted my sister to ask if we still had a Netflix account. We did. I logged in and started scrolling. It was a depressing scene: I was lying at the foot of the Andes in the middle of winter but I was inside, lying on my bunk in the hostel watching TV. I logged out of Netflix and looked up the hut I’d heard so much about, Refugio Frey.

When Angie got back from skiing that day I pitched my idea: we would leave early Wednesday morning and take the bus to the base of Cerro Catedral. From there we would hike into the backcountry to the hut. We would stay for two nights and, depending on the conditions, Angie could ski on Thursday and Friday morning and then we would head back to the base of the mountain to catch the last bus back into town so I could make the MRI. Sensing how antsy I was feeling and eager to go herself, Angie agreed.

We decided, after talking over dinner with some guys I had met and skied with before Angie arrived in Bariloche, that the current desperate snow conditions called for crampons instead of snowshoes. These guys had gotten back from skiing at Refugio Frey that day and said the hike was fast and easy. The conditions were more like early spring than winter. We decided that even with the limited “goober” gear we had if we rented some crampons and a couple sleeping bags we would be set. I thought about bringing my skis – what are the chances that I would hurt myself more if I just took a run or two up there? – but I knew carrying the extra weight alone was a bad idea and I had two doctor’s orders not to ski. Angie and I agreed I would hike only and keep my arm slung up to prevent it from getting any worse.

The next morning, Wednesday July 15th, we rented our crampons and sleeping bags, bought two new matching hats and made our way to the bus stop. We clambered onto the bus with our odd assortment of gear laughing about how inexperienced and idiotic we looked. I was jealous that Angie had her skis, but much happier now to be far away from the hostel bunk beds and Internet access.

            I don’t remember the first Saturday morning drive to the mountains, the first ice-cream post-ski stop in Empire, or the first time I ever skied. I was two and a half. Like any decent two and a half year old shredder I sported a puffy purple onesie that turned me into a blueberry Michelin Man and a helmet that doubled the size and weight of my head.

I only know what that day was like from the photos my mom put in our family scrapbooks and the stories my parents have told me. My dad loves to talk about that day; he says that when we finished my first run ever I looked up at him laughing and said, “Can we do that again?” He replied, “We can do that as many times as you want, honey.”

Friday July 17. 3:30ish PM.

Two meters of new snow. Our progress is too slow.

I finish stomping down the snow underneath my left foot. Four stomps for each step. Ten steps. Forty stomps. My legging-sling is long gone; it is impossible to move without using both arms. I stand, knee deep in powder hoping that when I lift my back leg to take a new step forward the full weight of my body on my front leg doesn’t send me falling to my waist through the snow I’ve just packed down. Too often it does.

Angie and I alternate leading. She’s in her full resort set-up. Regular skis, boots and poles. There’s nothing backcountry or even slightly side country about the gear. We joke: at least she doesn’t wear race boots anymore. In the places where the trail is downhill or flat Angie mostly leads. She faster than me on these parts moving with her skis parallel to the trail and packing down the snow for me as she goes. Following her it feel less like I’m just post holing and more like I am actually wearing snowshoes. I go ahead on the uphills. Stomp stomp stomp stop. Step. Stomp stomp stomp stomp. Step. Stomp stomp stomp stomp. Step.

At a particularly treacherous point in the trail the snow is at least six feet deep and the slope, falling down to the left, makes it particularly difficult to pack down the snow so it won’t keep collapsing under us. The heals of the makeshift snowshoes get caught with each step. Once, after yanking my leg up from behind me I find the whole contraption has come off – the snowshoe, if you can even call it that, is buried in the snow behind me. Angie helps me dig it out waits while I tie it back on my foot with a desperate triple-knot.

I check my phone. 3:30. The last place where I checked the time is just thirty feet or so behind us. Twenty minutes have passed. Thirty feet. Twenty minutes.

“Ang”, I start, “It’s 3:30. We need to decide now if we keep going or if we turn around and head back for Frey.” Angie pauses. It’s the first time we’ve openly acknowledged we might have dangerously underestimated the time it would take to get out. The wind is strong and there’s the concern that our old tracks might be filled in with snow by now. On top of that, going back would mean going uphill. We wouldn’t make it back to the hut before dark – we might not even make it half way back before dark. And yet, we have no idea what the rest of the trail will be like. When we left the hut we all agreed, Angie and Ian and I, that there would be less snow lower down.

“It’ll get easier lower down. We’re gonna get out,” I say.

Angie nods, looks back at me and says, “There’s also Piedritas, if we need it.”

“Yes, definitely. But we won’t.”

Refugio Piedritas is an old abandoned hut two miles away from Refugio Frey on the trail back out to the base of Cerro Catedral. Its not more than three wooden walls built around one side of a giant boulder with a roof over it. It’s not ideal but the thought of having shelter so close is comforting. We keep moving, away from Refugio Frey and down into the valley below.

Friday July 17. 5:00 PM.

Lost the trail. Looking for Refugio Piedritas.

From here it looks as if there is just an empty untouched field of snow between us and the larger forest, where we hoped to find Refugio Piedritas. Hours ago the thought of spending the night there was a last resort and the fact that we might not even make it that far, less than a mile past where we stopped at 3:30, hadn’t even occurred to us.

The trail opened up just above us and Angie was able to ski down to the edge of the trees. Before I can reach her, she calls back, “Chiara! There’s no way we can cross here.” Her voice is chilling, scared but sure of itself. I meet her at the edge of the snowfield. She has tried to walk across it in her skis but the snow collapsed out from under her. The trees are bowed over and buried under the weight of the snow. Together they create a hidden latticework of branches and trunks. Angie almost lost one of her skis in the tangle of wood below. I take a step and my feet fall through. Caught on a branch between my legs I sit with my feet dangling. “No, I agree, we can’t cross here.”

Three years before Angie and I found ourselves stranded in the backcountry of Argentina, my dad and I took a backcountry trip together in Colorado. It was just two nights in Rocky Mountain National Park. I took charge of planning the trip; I printed out all the topographic maps and drew where I thought would be the best route and camping spots. A couple nights before the trip I took all of our gear down to our basement and laid it out making an inventory and checking that we had everything we needed.

Before we departed I explained everything we were planning to my mom, more for her sake than my own at the time, and left her with a copy of all the maps. We stopped at the ranger station at the entrance of the park and registered our trip; we paid for a three-day backcountry camping tent tag and rented a bear canister.

            When Angie and I left for Refugio Frey we packed in a rush and mentioned our plans only in passing to some of the other girls I had been living in the hostel with for a few weeks now. We did not stop to register our trip with Club Andino Bariloche, the group that runs the huts there, including Refugio Frey or explain to the hostel owners where we would be for the next few nights. The night before we left Angie was finishing up a paper for her study abroad program until super late and we saved all the packing for the morning of. It was a haphazard departure.

Friday July 17. 6:00ish PM.

Not making any progress. Daylight is disappearing.

After losing the trail, traversing through the forest became impossible – many of the trees are buried creating the same trap that we found in the snowfield but here we also have to bushwhack through the larger trees and shrubs that withstood the weight of the snow and stand blocking our path. In the last hour we made only a football field worth of progress. Now, we are crawling across the same snowfield that we had decided we couldn’t possibly cross.

We each have one of Angie’s skis held out in front of us to keep from falling through the snow to the trees below. I lift the ski, lunging it away from my chest until my arms are completely extended. My left arm is horribly weak but the pain in my shoulder has gone. For twenty minutes or so, as the light fades from the sky, we move like this together.

“Ang, we have to stop and make a shelter for the night,” I say. The words had been on the tip of my tongue for a few minutes at getting them of my mouth gives me more space to breathe. Angie looks at me, taking everything in, and stands still for a few seconds.

The water is gone. We have no way to make a fire and no headlamps. We each have less than half of the battery life left our phones and no service from where we are. The sky is darkening and the sun disappeared behind the ridge above us an hour ago.

“Okay. Let’s do it.” Angie replies.

Saturday July 18. 7 AM.

It’s well below freezing. We are fighting off hypothermia and waiting for sunrise.

The alarm goes off again. I reach into my pants to turn it off. Two more hours have passed. I try to turn my head to look at Angie, “I can’t wait for the sunrise,” I tell her. It’s mostly true – I do want the sun to rise, but I have no idea how the hell we are going to get out. I try to convince myself that ten more hours of daylight is plenty.

The sky begins to lighten around and by eight-thirty we muster the will to leave our cocoon and get moving again. We shove the sleeping bags back into our packs and tie the snowshoe-sleds to the outside of my pack. We eat a little more, sharing what’s left of the pizza, which is mostly just frozen crusts. We drink the little water that collected in the bottom of the Nalgene that we filled with snow and put in the sleeping bag with us the night before. Angie jams her feet into her frozen ski boots. I feel anxious to make some kind of progress. I need to move more than a hundred meters in an hour.

The evening before we walked over the run out of a huge avalanche. The snow was densely packed from the force of the slide and we made comparatively quick progress.

I start talking, just as much to myself as to Angie, “considering the avalanche has already slid and there was no wind or snow last night I don’t think there is any risk of it sliding again. We don’t really know where Piedritas is and it seems like maybe we can see a way out if we’re up on the ridge, and,” I start to confess, “I’m not sure I can handle moving the way we were at the end of the day yesterday.”

Angie nods, hesitating, we have to make a decision but we both know we don’t know what the right one is, “Okay, I think that makes sense. We can check for cell service at the top of the slide too.” We make our way, crawling again at first, back to the base of the avalanche. Angie straps her skis back on her pack and I put on a pair of the crampons we rented. We start the boot pack up.

            It had been five months since Angie and I were stranded in the mountains in Argentina and I was back in Colorado in wintery mountains for the first time since that weekend. My mom and I drove the seven hours from Denver to Silverton so I could ski with a good friend, Kim Grant, who is a backcountry guide at the mountain there.

That night my mom, Kim and I were walking back to her house after visiting a friend of Kim’s. Outside, the clouds were moving quickly across the sky, thickening in the distance with the promise of more snow. Kendall Mountain loomed above the tiny town glowing eerily in the hazy moonlight. The ridge, reaching over 4,000 feet above us, pushed up against the darkening sky.

When we got to the house, Jeremy, Kim’s boyfriend, had made a feast of beef tacos for us. I had met Jeremy before, when I first met Kim, two years earlier. They had just started dating then and I didn’t spend much time with him but I remember the thick black beard and kind eyes. I don’t remember talking much with him, though, but perhaps that’s because he’s more intent on listening.

As the four of us sat at the kitchen table talking and passing around the various hot sauces and other toppings, Kim and I dominated the conversation. We got on the topic of white water rafting, which Kim and Jeremy spend much of their time in the summers doing, and I confessed that more than any other extreme sport that I am interested in learning, that’s the one that scares me the most. Then, the conversation turned towards risk, or really I turned the conversation to risk.

We talked in circles for a while; mostly Kim and I and my mom occasionally are the ones doing the talking. Jeremy sat, listening carefully. I was asking how you decide when a risk is no longer worth it. When is a risk unjustifiable? Finally, Jeremy speaks up, “It’s about having fun, really. Taking risks is fun, the challenge and the uncertainty, pushing your limits,” he pauses, “that’s part of the fun. But when the risk you’re taking isn’t any fun, it’s not worth it anymore. And that’s a different point for everyone.”

Saturday, July 18. 1:00ish PM.

We reach tree line on the ridge and hunker down as the wind picks up.

It takes a little under three hours to make it almost to the top of the slide staying on the far left side near the half-buried forest we tried to walk through last night. Just above tree line we follow the ridge to the left and find a spot to break. Angie takes out an apple and we share a few bites. My stomach just feels sore. I’m not hungry. She isn’t either but it’s the water in the apple we both need.

We look down into the valley below; it’s impossible to know where Refugio Piedritas. There appears to be a couple treeless chutes we could get to if we continued following the ridge out away from Frey and toward Lago Gutierrez. But as far as we can see none of these chutes have slid; considering the natural slide we just hiked up, the avalanche danger must be extreme. It feels like the only way back into the valley is where we just came from.

We sit down in ditches in the snow dug from the heals of our boots and put back on all of our layers. The wind whips around our backs and Angie takes out her phone and turns it on. No service. We call anyways. 911. It rings and then the call drops. We call again. Angie hears an automated voice on the other end and she starts trying to explain what has happened. The call drops. We call again. Nothing. And again. Automated message. The call drops, again. We call, again.

Then, a voice, a real non-automated voice answers the call. Angie hands me the phone, “they’ll understand your accent better,” and I start explaining as fast as I can what has happened. The call gets transferred to the local police in Bariloche. I explain again. The call drops. I call back and start explaining immediately after I hear the phone pick up on the other end. The man on the other line tells me not to hang up, that he’s transferring my call again. It rings and then, “Hola?” I explain again.

There is a rescue team coming. We are told to stay where we are and call to check in every half hour until we make contact with the rescuers. There are four of them all dressed in red and traveling on skis. “Dale, dale. Gracias,” I hang up to save battery and look over at Angie. She’s balling. My heart is pounding and my tongue feels swollen in my throat.

Saturday, July 18. 4:00ish PM.

Angie’s skis are stuck in the snow behind us with my bright orange base layer tied to their tips. The wind is relentless and the clouds are collecting above us. It looks like tonight won’t be as clear and quiet as the one we just had. We have been waiting over three hours and it’s become clear the rescuers might not reach us today. I can’t focus very well. The trees below move like people and brown shrubs turn red.

“Ang, at five, if they’re not here, we have to go back down and build another shelter. We can’t stay up here past dark.” Angie looks at me. The hope drains from her face. I start to process what I’ve just suggested and my mind goes blank.

“Okay, we’ll wait until five,” she finally says, “and if they’re not here then we’ll go back down.”

We scream into the wind and take turns blowing the whistles on our packs. It goes on like this for twenty minutes as least. Each yell, each cry, is swallowed up by the wind. Then, we hear a call from the valley below. We scream and whistle back. Minutes pass with nothing. Then, another call from below. Angie and I jump from our sleeping bags and starts frantically waving our arms, screaming.

A red dot appears in the valley below. It passes by where we slept last night. We screaming through uncontrollable sobs. The figure below raises a pole and waves.




I am back at Middlebury now. It’s January and winter has finally come to Vermont. My friend Anna and I are walking to the dining hall for breakfast before heading off on a snowy romp up Mount Mansfield. We’re talking abstractly about the simultaneous fragility and resilience of life; I mention writing this paper about getting stuck in Argentina with Angie and how it feels equally pointless and necessary to reflect on the experience. We look at each other and immediately start running all over the parking lot, singing and laughing. It’s a natural transition for us, moving from abstract conversations of the paradoxes of life to yelling out Kanye West lyrics and dancing up on trees and lampposts.

“But ya know,” I say turning to her as we start walking again, “shit happens and I’m not gonna sit on the couch. And I’m still not gonna sit on the couch.”

Sometimes, you make careless mistakes. You get caught in the moment, in the excitement of fresh snow and the seductive feeling of being just a little out of control. You get in over your head, even if you don’t realize that is actually the source of your adrenaline. It is about assessing and managing risks; recognizing when you are taking a risk and understanding the implications. Once that part is done though, when you’ve checked the weather and the trail conditions, thrown in your headlamp and called your parents or your boyfriend to tell them where you’re running off to, let that all go. Scream at the top of your lungs to the music blasting in the car, find your line and be consumed by the joy of movement in wild places. Just go.

I’m going.