Take it to the Limit

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Warming up (getting pumped) on Sun Bowl

One of the great things about outdoor sports is the opportunity they present for getting out of your comfort zone. Whether racking up a for a difficult climb, stepping into your skis at the top of a steep chute, or clicking into your pedals before an epic ride, pushing against the unknown often leads to some of the most intimidating yet gratifying moments we encounter.

Ashley on Lady and the Tramp

Ashley on Lady and the Tramp

While trying a climb at a challenging-for-me grade over the weekend, I got a crash course in pushing against my limits and coming up short. Starting up the climb I immediately began to struggle, and while the climb was physically demanding, the struggle was with my confidence. After completing a third of the route (in poor style) I froze at the last bolt, lacking the commitment to move past it for fear of falling, and an inability to trust myself on unknown and uncomfortable terrain. Unable to complete the climb due to my unwillingness to continue up and risk a fall, I dejectedly lowered to the ground. Minutes later, I watched a friend cruise past the final bolt, clip the chains, and finish the route.

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Ashley and I on Moosilauke

The following day, I hiked Mount Moosilauke with my fiancée, her sister, and her sister’s boyfriend. Ashley’s sister is fairly new to hiking and had never attempted a mountain nearly as large as 4,800-foot Moosilauke. If the mountain’s elevation didn’t provide enough of a challenge, the weather upped the ante by providing us with nothing but cold, wind, and rain. In spite of the many challenges, Ashley’s sister overcame them, summiting her first 4000-footer. Too bad the weather didn’t cooperate; instead of getting the opportunity to enjoy her accomplishment, she was greeted with biting cold, 30+mph winds on the summit. We stayed on top just long enough to take some foggy photos before making a run for treeline.

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Shadowy figures heading toward Moosilauke’s summit

It was really inspiring to watch someone push outside their comfort zone, try something different, and succeed. But as inspiring as it was, it simultaneously made me feel a little silly. The day before, I was scared to go five feet above the protection of a bolt (my comfort zone)…and the following day I witnessed someone go 4,800 feet above their comfort zone. In the end, it’s the pushing up against your limit that leads to the gratifying and memorable moments we experience in the outdoors. Enjoy your moment, Laura!

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