June 25th 2006. Nine years ago, I sustainable a life-altering deliberate elbow to the temple while playing in a water-polo tournament. I was 15. Little did I know how much that single event would change the course of my entire life. I wound up in a coma. I had to attend intensive rehab for cognitive, occupational, speech, and physical therapies. Among MANY things I lost my ability to read, memorize, and my cognitive functions tumbled drastically downhill. Those would become the least of my worries. Since this day 9 years ago I’ve been in pain 24/7. There has not been a single moment where I’ve been pain-free since the blow to my head. I’ve been to every specialist in the US and I’ve tried every drug to try and alleviate my symptoms from my Traumatic Brain Injury all to no avail. After about 3 years immediately following the injury I was tired of merely existing. I had 1 of 2 choices. I could commit suicide in hopes of getting away from pain, or I could battle every day to “fake it till you make it.” With unsuccessful attempts at my first option I began reclaiming my life in hopes of actually LIVING. It’s been the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever had to face. Every day is a struggle but the fight is more than worth it. Living with Traumatic Brain Injury is incredibly difficult. The invisibility of this injury makes it unique in the respect that its “survivors” appear normal on the outside. It’s both a blessing and a curse to look “normal.” Sometimes it would be 110% easier if my outsides reflected the battle that’s constantly raging internally. My injury forced me from a very early age to constantly adapt. Living moment by moment I live the life I am currently blessed with. The gift of planning is something most TBI-ers learn to live without. Our bodies dictate our current abilities and those change drastically day by day and hour by hour. I taught myself, with the tools given to me by UCLA’s Chronic Pediatric Pain Clinic, to appreciate the little things in life. To focus on the small beauties of this world because sometimes that’s all we have. Over the past 9 years I’ve gotten tremendously good at hiding my ailments in hopes of simulating a semi-normal life. Sometimes I cannot hide my symptoms and others look at me with the utmost concern. I spent the first 3 years after my injury 100% reliant on another individual. I needed help eating, bathing, walking, etc. When I first embraced the mentality of “fake it till you make it” I vowed to myself that as long as I was able, I would be self-reliant. Losing your independence is perhaps the worst thing to endure as a teenager. Once I was able to function independently I took it and ran. Many of my friends will speak of my absurd stubbornness, but there’s a reason for it. As much as I hate to admit, my entire life is ruled by my TBI. From seizures and double vision, vertigo and headaches that make you want to shoot yourself, from sharp stabbing pains throughout your body and getting sick at the drop of a hat I’ve learned to fully LIVE my life while I have the ability to. I never thought my life would be the beautiful adventure it is today, but I wouldn’t change a single thing. I’ve met some of the most incredible individuals and I truly value this precious gift we’ve been given. I try my absolute hardest to fully LIVE and be present in the moment. I appreciate the little gifts nature so freely spreads. I hope with all my heart to show others that they can accomplish their wildest dreams despite their disabilities or hiccups. The only constant is change and if these past 9 years have taught me anything it’s that love is the most important gift we all possess. Within ourselves lies the ability to change and focus on positivity. Sometimes it’s easier to see than others but hope and faith will carry you through the hardest of times. Live the life of your dreams, for nothing is ever guaranteed. The happiness of your life is directly related to the quality of your thoughts. Live with purpose and meaning… and don’t ever let ANYTHING hold you back from your dreams. I owe so much to the people in my life that have stayed by my side and help to make this crazy journey better than I ever could have imagined. I’ve accomplished more than I (or anyone else for that matter) ever thought was possible… and that’s a trend I’m going to uphold until the very end. Traumatic Brain Injury is a life-long battle. Raising awareness is key to helping others successfully maneuver their way through their new world. Stay positive and cherish every moment as if it were your last… and above all else don’t ever let others tell YOU what YOU ARE capable of. Defy the odds kids… it’s much more fun
Folks, here’s the newest Video Trip Report with live footage of Sierra Mapping Project’s first trip from South Fork Campground to Mt. Whitney. As of today there is only 7 days left in the Kickstarter Campaign. This wholesome Non-Profit is badly needed. If the base goal of $2,500 is not reached than none of the pledged funds will be received.
Sierra Mapping Project benefits everyone. Free accurate mileages, elevation profiles, and water sources will be available to download for everyone. EVERY trail in the HIGH Sierra will be mapped and available to YOU free of charge. If you can spare a few dollars (roughly the price of a map) I highly encourage you to donate.
Please enjoy and share! PS- if you click directly on the Vimeo link the video quality is MUCH better!
“From the very beginning I knew I’d be hiking into a weather system. I was supposed to leave for my starting point at South Fork Campground on Tuesday May 12th, but I ended up holding off until Friday in hopes of bypassing some of the larger storm systems which were scheduled to hit the Sierra.
My Mom drove me the hour and a half to the beginning of Sierra Mapping Project’s first leg at South Fork Campground roughly 45 mins outside of Visalia, CA. Every pothole and bump in the dirt road was felt as her white Camry tried it’s best to avoid major divots. We arrived at a the same spot I’d rung in the New Year with. A fitting location to begin the first of many new trips.
My mom and I got out of the car, took a short walk down to the river, packed up the rest of my belongings and then said our goodbyes. Without hesitation my mother insisted one last time… “Are you sure there’s no one that can go with you? What about that girl hiking the Theodore Salomons Trail? I just wished you would be going with other people.” With difficulty I tried to refrain from telling her for the umpteenth time that most all of my miles have been logged solo. I would love to have others out with me, but it’s easier said than done. My mom and I embraced for one last hug before she took my photo and I began the first stretch of trail to be GPS’d for Sierra Mapping Project. “
Click on the link to read the full article!
A couple weeks ago I went public in my launch of Sierra Mapping Project. I immediately had many people express their excited interest for mapping every trail in California’s iconic High Sierra. Friends approached me with the idea to launch a Kickstarter for SMP.People realize the need for an accurate, but most importantly current inventory of our trail systems.
A couple days ago I launched the Sierra Mapping Project Kickstarter Campaign. In just a few short days, the community has backed over $650 out of the minimum goal of $2,500. The campaign will run for 40 days… of which we’re now down to 35.
I founded Sierra Mapping Project out of a dire need to have current and accurate information on the trails ALREADY in place in the Sierra Nevada. There were many instances when I would be going into the backcountry and the information I was receiving from our forest service was terrible at best. Now, this is through no fault of their own. Budget cuts, current funds running low, and a lack of personnel has made it near impossible for our beloved FS to do their job. Thus I began scheming my brain child… Sierra Mapping Project.
The main goal of SMP is to provide current conditions and an inventory of our cherished trail systems FOR FREE to the community. These are OUR trails and we should have access to this information. I will be GPS’ing EVERY trail in the High Sierra and creating a GPS track which will be available for download free of charge for YOU. In addition to a GPS track, you will have access to elevation profiles, water sources, and current conditions.
In recent years, our treasured Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails have received an overwhelming amount of traffic which can be detrimental to the trail system. With the sudden influx of day hikers, backpackers, and horse packers the infrastructure of these trails have been degrading rapidly. By GPS’ing EVERY trail in the High Sierra it is my hopes to relieve some of the congestion off the JMT/PCT and get people into other areas that our Sierra holds for us. By bringing a voice back to these networks were securing our trail systems and showing the government that we need to have these areas available/maintained for use. The more people that show an interest in our backcountry the bigger impact we can have of protecting OUR land for not only us but future generations as well.
The money raised from the Kickstarter Campaign will go towards GPS instruments, GIS software, non-profit fees, basic operational costs such as gas, batteries, gear repairs, etc. Sierra Mapping Project will be a non-profit and will be around for years to come, collecting current conditions as well as updating old information. This is THE SAME information that our Forest Service is supposed to be collecting, but since they’re unable to it’s time for the community to step up to the plate and preserve the wild land which we hold so dear. Remember, Sierra Mapping Project will be a tax-write off!
Another aspect of Sierra Mapping Project is to scout for new loops, routes, and thru-hiking alternatives. I am the biggest proponent of wild and adventurous exploration. Therefore, all routes will be minimally documented with the exception of a short summary to uphold the integrity of off-trail adventure and purity.
I am working in collaboration with Tom Harrison; California’s great cartographer who produces top-notch maps. I’m sharing my findings with him to make his information as accurate as possible for backcountry enthusiasts.
I leave tomorrow, May 12th, on the project’s first ~350 mile venture. I will begin at South Fork Campground, travel up through Mineral King, meet up with the High Sierra Trail and take that to the PCT at Bighorn Plateau, from there I’ll stay on the JMT/ Sierra High Route until I get to Devil’s Postpile where I’ll take our San Joaquin River Trail back to Clovis.
I’m jazzed to be able to share my findings with YOU! The Sierra’s are my backyard and I’m beyond thrilled to be sharing her beauty with the community. It’s going to be cold, snowy, and steep, but the mountains are calling me home.
Sierra Mapping Project is for the public by the public. Please share with everyone! The more people who know about this meaningful and worthwhile project the better. Anyone who visits the High Sierra will benefit from Sierra Mapping Project. Become a backer today!
A huge thanks to Sierra Mapping Project Sponsors – the dedicated folks who see the need for this venture: ULA, Western Mountaineering, Bedrock Sandals, Tom Harrison. Sierra Mapping Project is actively seeking sponsors… it’ll be a tax write-off!
Have a beautifully organic day,
Sara “BloodBank” Fry
Founder of Sierra Mapping Project
It is with great pleasure I present you with something I’ve been hard at work on:
What is he Sierra Mapping Project?
The Sierra Mapping Project: To determine the condition of our current trails and provide an in-depth analysis for recreational use in the High Sierra. The Sierra Mapping Project will provide a highly detailed description of trails and routes for the ever-growing popularity of backcountry exploration. Each trail will be hiked, GPS’d, and thoroughly documented with photos of current conditions. Trails will then be categorized into tracks which will be available for download to the public at no cost.
The Sierra Mapping Project will provide much needed relief to heavily populated trails such as the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails. All trails will be classified according to distance, difficulty, loops, spurs, and thru-hiking alternatives. Bringing a voice to these forgotten paths will increase tourism, generate revenue for neighboring towns, but most importantly decrease sedentary lifestyles while providing the public with information to explore their native land and increase their physical, mental, and emotional health.
The Sierra Mapping Project will be conducted over a 5 year period for the entirety of the Sierra trail system- thousands of miles between Kennedy Meadows South (the beginning of the High Sierra) and Kennedy Meadows North (Sonora Pass/Tahoe). Highly detailed data/guide books will be published according to regional boundaries. Books will include maps, tracks, waypoints, elevation profiles, water sources, and a summary of all loops, spurs, and thru-hiking options available in said regions. Guide and Datebooks will be made available to the mass public every calendar off-season. In addition to hard copies, a phone application and downloadable track will be made available for purchase based on length of trail and region.
With the sudden but steady influx of backcountry recreational activities the Sierra Mapping Project will be highly sought after and utilized in its totality. This trend will continue to soar given the growing awareness of backcountry activities in-part attributed to mass-media coverage being received from Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild” and Robert Redford’s upcoming red carpet release of “A Walk in the Woods.” The demand for hiking alternates is more prevalent now than ever before.
The knowledge of the Sierra’s elaborate trail network needs to be available for public use to lighten the wear and tear on our more heavily traveled trails. The Sierra Mapping Project will be lead and conducted by Sara Fry, an avid outdoor enthusiast and documenter. Sara has over 10,000 trail miles under her feet and is eager to share her detailed findings with the public. Her project will not only motivate and encourage a healthy lifestyle, but also promote geotourism in the state of California. Sara frequently gives public talks on long-distance hiking and other trails she has pioneered. She is eager to bring the beauty of the great outdoors into the homes of millions worldwide. Her extensive experience in backcountry travel and zest for connecting the community to nature drive her to produce top quality results that will become the Holy Grail of California’s iconic High Sierra.
Sara believes education and information should be free for all to utilize and enjoy. Therefore, she will provide downloadable tracks free of charge for the public. Due to it’s costly nature the Sierra Mapping Project is actively seeking partners and sponsors. Give back to the community. Give back to the trails.
To learn more visit: www.sierramappingproject.org
At the very least the ©Sierra Mapping Project will provide the community with highly detailed guide/databooks about ALL of the trails in California’s High Sierra. In addition to free downloadable tracks which will be available to the public. Thousands of miles of loops, spurs, thru-hiking options, as well as new routes similar to that of the Sierra High Route and Andrew Skurka’s latest endeavor of the Kings Canyon High Basin Route.
Trails encompassed in the Sierra Mapping Project include everything between Kennedy Meadows South (the beginning of the High Sierra) and Kennedy Meadows North (Sonora Pass/Tahoe). This means that thousands of miles of trails will be documented both with GPS as well as physical photos and videos to show current conditions.
The ©Sierra Mapping Project is actively seeking partners and sponsors. Give back to your community. Give back to your trails.
This was an update I made to my Facebook Group: Living Life and Testing Limits – Human Powered:
“Well folks, this group was in need of an update. I’ve changed the name and description to include all of my endeavors. I coined the slogan “Living Life and Testing Limits” about 2 years ago to describe not only my website, but also my personal lifestyle in general.
2014 was an incredible year for me. It began with a thru-hike of the San Diego Trans County Trail, followed by an EPIC thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. When I began long-distance hiking via the Pacific Crest Trail I thought nothing could ever compare… and I was right. No other trail does compare, but the CDT stole my heart. The sheer beauty and her ever-changing nature makes me weak in the knees. I experienced some of the most spectacular country while traveling through NM, CO, WY, and MT. I finished the CDT in a little under 5 months on September 25th at 6:13pm. Now, I definitely had my fair share of health issues on that hike (more so than ever before) but I enjoyed every second of being able to be out in such a majestic landscape. Seizures were extremely prevalent the last 3 months, but I was blessed to be hiking with a great group of individuals. I’m sure my stubbornness was incredibly hard to deal with at times, but being docile and giving in to weakness never accomplished anything. Albeit, the seizures got incredibly hard to fend off towards the end and I was having a bout of them roughly every other day… if not daily. But I tried to the best of my ability to not let them control me.
Upon returning from the CDT I thru-hiked the San Joaquin River Trail (again) setting a record of 4.5 days to travel about 150 miles. Granted there are only 2 times the SJRT has been thru-hiked and both have been by me. Regardless, it was another great achievement.
The start of 2015 was wonderful! I spent the entire first 2 months backpacking. A group of good friends (family) went and thru-hiked the San Diego Trans County Trail… again (it’s an annual hike/family reunion). Upon finishing I hopped in a car and drove cross-country to hike the 250 mile Ouachita (pronounced: Wash-i-Taw) in Oklahoma and Arkansas. It as a wonderful little trail and some good exposure to hiking back East.
Upon returning, I went into dermatology for a few suspicious spots that had been appearing within the last couple months. I had 4 surgeries and am still awaiting the outcome. Some of you may know that because of the TBI I sustained 8 years ago I do not numb for surgeries. So it’s never very fun going under the knife. However, these past 4 incisions weren’t as excruciating as my previous 11 surgeries so that’s always a plus!
A few weeks ago I put out my official announcement of thru-hiking the Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal come April 2016. There are less than 10 people in the entire world to thru-hike the high route in the same self-supported fashion I’ll utilize. I’m stoked to take on this new challenge and see the beauty of the Himalaya Range.
I also announced a perimeter swim of Lake Tahoe come late July/August. This 72 mile swim will also be self-supported. Although the water will be 55-60 degrees I will not wear a wetsuit or utilize fins. I’ll tow all my food, camping gear, camera, water etc in a dry bag behind me that’s attached to my body. I’m planning on this endeavor taking 7 days at 10 miles/day.
On May 12th I’ll begin a ~350mi route I created up in the High Sierra which will utilize the SJRT on the return leg so I’ll technically be able to “walk home.”
I’ve got a few other plans up my sleeve as well… so stay tuned.
This life is about truly living and following your passions. It just so happens that mine include being out in nature and testing my body in a way that has long-since been forgotten and overthrown by the complexities of “city life.” I updated the description of this group to “Human Powered.” I fully believe and cherish the beauty of approaching adventure under the will and skill set of our own bodies. I love the feeling of accomplishment that I receive knowing that I got someplace through no outside help. Our bodies are capable of incredible feats if we harness our dormant abilities.
I hope you had a great weekend! Keep spreading the love!
Sara “BloodBank” Fry
“The stillness of the dark night seeps deep into my bones. Laying upon this hard rooftop, I gaze longingly into the black abyss. My body is quiet, but my mind is forever racing. Thoughts come and go like shooting stars grazing the envelope of this silent night. I’m tired. I’m ready to succumb to the dream state that eagerly awaits me at the edge of my eyelids. But hours have passed and my musings still soar through the sky at galactic speeds. It’s both a blessing and a curse to be chained so heavily to my relentless writing mind. Every part of my body seeks rest, but there is no rest when my ruminations get their creative itch. The need to outsource my ideas onto paper grows stronger as my fingertips freely bleed ink. My solace tonight is knowing that once I’ve written down everything that impedes sleep, my mind will sweetly drift into the playground of my subconscious and frolic with the beauty of my imagination. Until then, my ideas continue to etch themselves through both time and space as they travel to their destination upon lined paper laced with thousands of familiar words.”