A Year In Review

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

20150123_153735

Leaving Grants, NM – Early Camping Shenanigans

 Once we arrived in the hotel room in Grants I sat down on the bed and fell asleep within seconds. My body was in dire need of rest. I was exhausted to say the least. My feet were painfully sore; this was the case for every other hiker as well. Road walks are killer. Every single body part starts screaming after the nonstop pounding against hard packed even pavement. When you’re on trail, your feet are constantly adjusting with every step. The trail is uneven and therefore the muscles in your feet get to move freely as they traverse the rocky path. When you’re on the road, you take the same exact step mile after mile, there is no reprieve from the harsh jolting that takes place. Road walks are NOT fun!

The boys woke me up in the morning to get breakfast, but there was no way I was waking up. They came back a few hours later just before check out. We packed up our gear, headed to Walmart for a few supplies, then hit the wide open ‘trail’ again. We walked along the road… oh joy! We passed by a correctional facility. I couldn’t imagine being cooped up in one of their small enclosed room. We joked about escapees saying they were thru-hikers and just walking North to their freedom.

wpid-20140521_165949.jpg

“Hospitality Center”…. this looks like the worst hospitality I’ve ever encountered…

There were signs posted alongside the road, “Do Not Pick Up Hitch Hikers.” Ipod and I took pictures right next to the sign and got a few good honks from passing motorists as they whizzed by.

wpid-20140521_160401.jpg

Classic Hikers Goofing Off

When Ipod, Nugio, and myself finally got to the trailhead we saw Chim rounding the trail ahead. The three of us took off our packs for a break while Chim got out in front. Not long after we sat down, a couple in a truck pulled up and offered us water and Gatorade. We gladly accepted and talked with the lovely duo for about half an hour. Nuge’s feet were killing him and we didn’t plan on going very much further that day. It didn’t matter that there was still plenty of sunlight left, our main goal had been getting out of town… and we had succeeded.

wpid-20140521_180542.jpg

Nugio and Ipod at the trailhead where we met the lovely couple

We saddled up again and I followed as Nuge lead the way. We made it less than a mile before we came upon a flat spot on the right side of the trail. It didn’t matter that there was cactus scattered throughout the entire plot – we were happy to see flat ground. Nuge and I laughed as we both laid out our Tyvek and yardsale’d all of our gear. Ipod showed up a couple mins later and he agreed it was a good spot to NOT hike. We had done maybe 12 miles that day.

Nuge and I broke out our Dodgy Bottles filled with whiskey and proceeded to medicinally treat our wounds. Slowly the aches and pains relinquished their grasps and faded away into soft murmurs. This was a good day!

Nuge and I were a little bummed that Chimi wasn’t with us. Chimichanga is much faster than we are. He will most likely be finished with the trail by August… as I’m typing this he’s somewhere in Northern WY (he may have already crossed into Montanta). We laughed and thought, well… that’s the last time we’ll ever see him again. We were both bummed, but we knew that this day would come eventually.

About an hour later, Nuge and I turned on our phones. There was texts from Chimi asking us if we went the wrong way…. we both laughed at the scene laid out before our eyes – both of us well on our way to being drunk while waiting for the sun to go down. We told Chim that we’d stopped and made camp for the night. About another hour passed before we heard Chimi’s call above our heads. Nuge and I were in disbelief. Chimi was coming down the trail after us. Nuge and I bust up in laughter. As he strolls up, we tell him to come sit down with us and take a swig. We must have been quite the site. 4 hikers all sitting on one neoair. Shocked, but pleasantly surprised, the sounds of laughter danced in the air… we had Chimi back!

We stayed up pretty late talking and having a grand time. I was very happy our little family was reunited once again. The three of us fell asleep to the stars above our head as Ipod slept soundly in his tent.

wpid-20140522_074709.jpg

A rock cairn on our approach up to Mt. Taylor

The following day was our first REAL mountain that we’d get to climb – Mt. Taylor. As the 4 of us made our approach we ran into a water cache. As we were taking a break and filling up our bottles the trail angel showed up. He had more water! We helped him unload his entire trunk (and even his backseat) and strategically placed the bottles into the coolers that he had left for CDT hikers. It was an honor meeting him. We were al VERY grateful for his dedication and kindness to complete strangers. He bid us good luck and we parted ways.

wpid-20140522_153440.jpg

Nugio on the final ascent to Mt. Taylor… after a pretty gnarly bush whack

We reached the top of Mt. Taylor and relaxed in a wind break. We laid out our sweat soaked shirts and let them dry in the harsh sun. Chimi took a nap while the three of us relaxed and enjoyed our first summit on the CDT. This was a good day. Over an hour later we looked up at the sky due south of us and to our displeasure we saw rather ominous looking clouds. We hurriedly packed our gear and began the decent to find camping for the night.

Chimi, Nuge, and Ipod in the wind break atop Mt. Taylor

Chimi, Nuge, and Ipod in the wind break atop Mt. Taylor

 Chimi and I found a million dollar camp site and settled in. There were two Teepees, a fire ring complete with rock tiling on the floor, and wonderful sitting logs. It was an absolutely amazing find! Happy and tired the 4 of us went to sleep.

Chimi, Nuge, and I had cowboy camped (sleeping under the stars) and woke up in the middle of the night to rain drops. We hurriedly set up our shelters before drifting off to sleep again. Another great day on the CDT.

 

Catching Up on the CDT – Lordsburg to Grants

I’m happy to report that I’m no longer on the first week stuck in New Mexico.  A ton has happened on this trail and I’m happy to say that I’m now MUCH further north, in Wyoming. I’ll be updating over the next few days in hopes of catching up to current time.

*****

Since I last posted I was reporting of severe shin pain. I ended up walking another day out of Lordsburg, NM (24 trail miles) and the final stretch that evening did me in. My leg was in excruciating pain and I decided to take some time off and let it heal. I followed the boys up the trail with Sleeping Bare in the RV for 8 days. I was constantly icing and elevating my shin. I went and got KT Tape and a calf sleeve to try and relieve some of the pain.

20140513_151625[1]

Waiting to hop back on trail with the boys

I got back on trail a few miles away from Reserve, NM on May 15th. When I joined back up with the boys we had a couple new hikers with us. Anna (Pruner), Chimichanga, Sailor, Pasta Alfredo, Friendly Neighbor, Opa, Chuck, and my very favorite… Tripod – a dog whom had followed Ipod to the road.

20140515_103216[1]

Anna in the back, Chim, and Tripod (with his prize elk leg)

Our next town stop was Pie Town, NM. Ipod, Nugio, Chim, Tripod, and myself all set off down the trail together. I got out in front in, however, I thought I was following Chimi and Tripod because I would randomly see dog prints and the ever famous Cascadia shoe print which so often litters  long trails. Turns out I was following different footprints and a random coyote.

I ended up hiking that section by myself because I had gotten so far ahead of the boys. When I arrived in Pie Town at Nita’s Toaster House I was greeted by a parade of hikers. It was wonderful being in their company. It wasn’t more than a few hours before the rest of my party arrived. Tripod, our three legged dog, was beat! He immediately found a spot on the ground between the hikers and feel asleep. He was a trooper!

20140516_164757[1]

Left to right – ?, Friendly, El Jefe, Myla, Opa, Chuck, Sailor, Pasta Alfredo, and myself (BloodBank)

My shin was still giving me problems, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. Nugio, Ipod, Anna, myself and Chimi took a zero at the Toaster House and had a wonderful time.

There was a dance later that evening at the community center. When we arrived the party was dead. We were told that since all the old cowboys can’t dance anymore it’s a sad scene. It was the perfect opportunity for thru-hikers to liven up the party. Needless to say Chim, Nuge, and myself got everyone on their feet dancing within a couple minuets. We had a blast!

The next town stop was Grants, NM. Nuge, Ipod, Chim, and I were headed North again. We had some beautiful desert hiking. Fully equipped with epic sunsets and endless views.

wpid-20140518_200442.jpg

Desert Sunsets

My shin gave me problems for the first couple days, but then everything subsided on the 3rd day. Happy shin, happy hiker! HOORAY!

20140513_152951[1]

Happy Hiker

The 4 of us hiked onward to “El Malpaise!” It was an absolutely stunning section filled with lava rocks galore. It was a major pain to walk on the glassy uneven surface, but the scenery and company made everything worthwhile

wpid-20140519_200125.jpg

Chim, Ipod, and Nuge

While road walking a section we decided to head into town for lunch then hitch back onto the trail. It was a WONDERFUL idea. We passed a bunch of other CDT hikers and waved at them from the back of the pick-up truck. Now this is hiking done right!

wpid-20140519_133338.jpg

Ipod and Chim on our hitch into Grants for Subway and ice cold drinks. We were in and out within 2 hours. We continued hiking with full bellies and high spirits

The four of us finished that section with a nice long road walk into Grants, NM. My feet were absolutely killing me from the rough pounding of the hard pavement. The monotonous action was taking a toll on all of us and we were thrilled to finally be in town. Even though we were in town we still had a few miles to the hotel. Hitching wasn’t working, so we went into Pizza Hut and ordered a pizza to be delivered to a local hotel… with us being delivered there as well. Our driver was great and the 4 of us arrived via Pizza Delivery to the front door. Major success!

wpid-20140519_173106.jpg

Chim, Ipod, and Nuge on the road walk into Grants, NM

Onwards North to Cuba, NM!

Day 4 and 5 “zombie death march” 👣

When we got to hwy 113 the previous night, Sleeping Bare brought us back to the RV so we’d have a great breakfast before hitting the trail around 730 the following morning. 

I awoke to the sweet smell of fresh roasted coffee and Nug handing me a warm mug. I took a deep breath and inhaled the instant alarm clock in a cup.   A couple minuets later I was being served golden pancakes with over easy eggs.  This is certainly a great way to wake up!  It wasn’t long before Nugio, iPod,  and myself were loaded up and back on the trail again 

Full of delicious food and caffeine the boys and I began our desert death march… 20 miles till our next water cache. 

My shirt is giving me an extra special rash. Being super sensitive to things is not fun! When I’m soaked with sweat I don’t notice the pain,  but when I take off my pack for a break my skin dries out again and my scabs crack. Thus creating a VERY vicious cycle.  Every time I put back on my pack I can feel my skin tearing apart.  Ironically,  this is by far the easier pain to deal with.

image

Oh the joys of backpacking 😂

My right shin is the worst of my ailments today.  It’s in awful pain!  If this is shin splints, it’s coming on incredibly fast and with a vengeance.  I’ve had shin splints before, but this doesn’t make sense because I’ve been training like crazy. Before I got on trail I was pulling 36 and 34 mile days with ease.  I’m really confused,  but I’m staying positive.  Send happy,  healthy,  healing thoughts! : )

The 3 of us finally found shade under the only tree for 6 miles and took a BEAUTIFUL siesta. It’s super hot out today. We’ll take any opportunity to get out of the blazing sun.

The land is completely barren and vast. You can see in every direction for miles.  There’s absolutely nothing to obstruct your view. 

image

The hiking got a little better,  scenery wise, at about mile 11. We got out of the fierce little ankle bitter plants. They have one mission: to leave your legs as scabbed and bloody as possible. 

image

This pretty little guy cut the bejesus out of my leg. 

image

The desert… where everything’s dead.

image

Nugio and ipod at our bone dry water source goofing off.

image

Our next cow infested water source.

image

Found this beautiful (Mojave Green?) Rattlesnake because I almost stepped on him.  He sure was pretty!

Nugio and I saw 8 antelope running/frolicking in front of us. This moment was too good to capture with a camera. After that I was beaming ear to ear. I love the little things that the trail provides. 

By the end of the day my leg was barking at me. I’ve only got 7 miles to go before I’ve completed the first stretch to Lordsburg, NM. I love this trail!  It feels so great to be home! 

******** Day 5

The three of us woke up early and did the final 7 miles into Lordsburg KOA. It was a flat and relatively boring road walk into town. My right shin is still very unhappy.  I’ve been using my trekking poles like crutches.

image

On our way into town we passed a cemetery,  an animal shelter, and a veterans park.  You see so many neat places when you walk everywhere.  I found some gords growing on the side of the road and sent the picture to @digsapparel to support #amelonaday. 

image

An awesome movement Michael McWilliams started to bring awareness to TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). He’s an incredible individual.  If you’ve got a melon picture send it his way to help support TBI awareness through art.  😎

I’m going to rest,  ice, and elevate my leg nonstop for the remainder of the day.  For now it’s showers, laundry, food, and sleep.

Hitting the trail tomorrow.  I hear we’ll see trees by the end of the day! Yippie!

Day 2 & 3: Sight and Walk “trail”

Another long and hot couple days.  I expect many more to come.  There’s absolutely zero shade out here… except for a few rogue trees. I’m still shocked this incredibly barren land used to be covered in shade.  There’s cow and therefor cow poop everywhere. It’s pretty comical actually. So far Jester was right when he told me I’d be near, on, by, and around cow shit the entire trail. Every time we find shade we have to clear all the patties out of the way. 

image

Our view looking back towards Crazy Cook. 

image

A snake a day

*****************

Day 3 started out hot and relatively boring in terms of scenery.  Nugio, iPod,  and myself walked 10 miles to our next water cache that the amazing CDTC set up for us.  When we arrived Nug got a text from Sleeping Bare (his dad) that said he’d meet us at the hwy at 1130 with pizza and beer.  The only problem was,  was that we didn’t have service to let us know when the original message was sent.  For all we knew it could have been yesterday.  But low and behold not more than 5 mins had passed when a red sedan came buzzing around the windy road and straight for us, creating a welcome cloud of dust.  Out of the car emerged Sleeping Bare holding a box which, “had my name on it.” Inside was a veggie pizza especially for me. Hello Trail Magic! The 3 hikers and Sleeping Bare ate until we couldn’t eat any more.  Then we had ice cold beer. I opted for a “strawberrita” because the alcohol content was slightly higher. We couldn’t be happier. Armed with full bellies and high spirits we began the next 12 miles to hwy 113 where we would be greeted again by Sleeping

Once we began hiking again it was miserably hot.  My sweat soaked shirt provided a slight reprieve, but the heat was still sweltering.  We stopped at every bit of shade we came across…. which certainly wasn’t very much. 

image

Nugio and ipod posted up

Just when we were beginning to feel the weight of the blistering heat we came across the most glorious sight!  Flowing water coming down the trail.  We practically ran to the source.  We couldn’t believe our eyes.  The solar well was overflowing ice cold water creating a make shift shower.  We all took advantage of this incredibly rare opportunity. 

image

Our saving grace from the heat.  Freezing flowing water. 

image

Nug taking advantage and soaking his swollen feet.

image

Ipod utilizing the shower.

image

If the well wasn’t overflowing this would have been our water source. 

image

Our hot desert death march. 

We soaked under the water and drenched ourselves before venturing out into the sun again.  It took less than 15 mins for our clothes to be completely dry,  but it was glorious walking through the desert while the cool breeze penetrated our wet clothes.  It’s funny how it’s the simple things in life such as an overflowing pipe that bring so much joy.  

image

Looking down into the valley.  Sleeping Bare was waiting for us somewhere down there. 

The final 4 miles downhill really placed a beating on my shin.  With every step I took pain radiated from the front of my leg.  Hopefully it will feel better tomorrow! 

image

Typical CDT. The trail maker right in front of a barbed wire fence.  I love this trail! 

Day 1: Starting the CDT! 👣

The first day of the CDT! We (Nugio,  iPod,  and myself) got picked up at the KOA in Lordsburg, NM at 7am. Despite being incredibly tired from the Pacific Crest Trail Kick-Off, my spirits were high and my energy levels were topping out.  I couldn’t help but beam with excitement as we walked towards our  CDTC shuttle, a dusty Volvo.  Pounce, a fellow hiker,  took our picture as we piled into the little car on our way to Hachita, NM.

image

The road into Hachita, where we would switch to a sturdier car, was as straight as could be.  Only one long meandering left “turn” stood between us and our exit.  We each paid the CDTC 70 dollars to drive us out to the Crazy Cook border, as well as cache water for the first 85 miles.  It was a beautiful and welcome deal! 

When we got into Hachita we switched to an incredibly dirty old blue truck.  We piled our backpacks into the trunk and climbed into the cabin.  I immediately noticed the heaping mound of fresh dirt that had accumulated on the floor board.  As Nug eagerly jumped into the front seat he slapped the dingy old cloth and the inside of our vehicle was instantly engulfed in a thick cloud of golden dirt.  I coughed as we waited for the engine to turn over. 

image

Our driver was great!  He gave us a local history lesson as we drove closer to our destination – Crazy Cook.

He taught us about the local copper mines and the saw mill industry that used to be in the area.  I was shocked that this place used to be covered in trees. Looking out onto the barren landscape, I knew shortly I would be longing for the welcome shade of the once plentiful green leafed foliage.

We drove on dirt roads for almost 2 hours.  It was brutal on the vehicle. Everywhere we looked we saw car parts. Everything from oil pans to fenders littered the graveyard like path. The closer we got to the border the worse the road became.  I bounced up and down hitting my head on the roof several times.  With each bump and notch we overcame more dirt happily danced into the cabin.  I wasn’t sure if the air was getting thicker or I was just ingesting a massive amount of dust particles.  Boogers immediately filed my nose making it impossible to breath in through my nostrils.  Every time I opened my mouth the dirt infused air made its way into my body and settled on my teeth creating a nice gritty layer now calling my teeth home. 

The wind was blowing vigorously and only increased the closer we got.  Soon our visibility was only a few hundred feet in front of us.

After hours of jostling around inside our shuttle we made it to the Southern Terminus- Crazy Cook. For the last 20 or so miles we had been following tire tracks from an illegal immigrant. As we approached the flimsy barbed wire gate that separated New Mexico and Mexico the tracks disappeared onto the other side for what looked like a successful illegal crossing. 

image

As we got out of the truck we opened the latch to discover our packs looked like they’d been rolling around in the dirt.  Once bright and clean, they like us, now had a brown sheen to them… so much for that shower I had just taken. 

image

Our driver dropped us off and took a few pictures of us before departing back to Hachita. 

While we were soaking it all in the three of us were greeted by 4 border patrol agents.  1 in a truck and 3 on quads.  They said they had been following the tracks as well. I tried getting a picture with them,  but they objected.  After a final picture,  Nugio, iPod, and I took our first steps on the Continental Divide Trail at 10:40am April 30th, 2014.

image

The three of us at Crazy Cook

image

The truck

image

Nugio

image

iPod

image

Me

image

Our route on the monument.

The walking was easy,  flat,  and along washes for roughly the first 14 miles. Within the first mile I stepped on an Ocotillo and the thorns pierced through the bottom of my shoe sticking my foot.  Despite the pain,  I was still thrilled to finally be starting the journey North to Canada. 

image

Our view

image

Ocotillo aka prickly sons a bi….cats.

We made it to the first water cache and ate dinner (cold instant mashed potatoes). We then hiked another ~2 miles before laying out our sleeping bags and falling asleep under the vast blanket of stars…. it feels great to be home. 

image

For the wonderful Michael McWilliams!

image

Sunset aka where we plopped down to get some shut eye. 

Why I Hike – CDT Dreaming

In a little over 3 months I’ll begin my next thru-hike on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). I’ve received an overwhelming amount of family, friends, and followers who ask the age old question: “Why?”

Everyone has their own reason why they chose to spend months on end exploring our rugged backcountry. In fact, there’s a saying among the thru-hiking community – “If you have to ask, you’re never going to understand.” But it’s my hope that you WILL understand and that you’ll be inspired to go out there and follow your dreams; no matter how crazy or difficult they may seem.

*************

1490625_10202919611895576_1345009753_o

I hike for my health. Many of you know that I sustained Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) when I was 15. I was in a coma, I had to relearn basic functions, and I was bed ridden for almost 3 years of my life. I was unable to go outside because the light was “too bright” and I couldn’t listen to music because it was “too loud.” Many of my symptoms have gotten better since then, but my life has been drastically changed because of my TBI.

When you experience as much pain as I do on a daily basis, you realize that no matter where you are, the pain you’re in is going to be the same regardless of your location. I’ve been told by all of my doctors that I MUST work out daily. Physical activity then, is not a suggestion, but a prescription. For me, hiking has wholeheartedly become the only prescribed medical regime that has made my deficits more tolerable.

When I’m outside in nature backpacking I’m still experiencing all the physical ailments that I would if I were inside laying in bed. The only difference is that I’m in a place I love, as opposed to being confined to the tethers that sick people are supposed to be tied to. I would much rather be sick in a place I love, and hold dear to my heart, than to be sick inside a stuffy room, feeling claustrophobic. I try and look for the small things in life and let those keep me afloat on a daily basis. Things such as the sunshine, or how the wind rustles through my hair, or the birds singing. It is out in nature that I am able to find a certain peace. I let the little things in life bring me joy, despite the war raging inside my body. If I was trapped inside, I wouldn’t be able to experience these little joys and let them soothe my pain.

There is no doubt that I’m not the average backpacker. A few of my hiking partners that I’ve allowed to physically walk with me (I’m a solo hiker) have come to find out that backpacking is definitely not “easy” for me. In fact, it’s a grueling task, but I’d much rather be in pain out in nature, than in a town. I’m frequently stopped/brought to my knees because of sharp shooting pains. I often wobble and have to stop because my balance is off. Occasionally, my hiking poles become the same equivalent as crutches; they act like a friend’s shoulder, embracing me as I lean into them. Sometimes my hiking partners hear me let out a short gasp for air. They see the pain in my face as I keel over. I wait, and let the pain that has decided to make its appearance, pass.

My eyes frequently get blurry and I’ll get double vision, but when you’re out in nature it’s not that big of a problem. In the backcountry, I don’t have to stop and explain myself to the people who would see me if I were in town. In fact, I don’t have to explain myself to anyone when I hike, because I am a solo hiker. In town, when all my ailments and symptoms come on, I get weird looks and people are always asking me if I’m okay and what’s wrong with me. When I’m hiking I don’t have to reassure people or explain that these are daily occurrences because of the TBI. I have been living with these inconveniences for the past 7 years, and I’m not going to let them dictate how I live. Everyone has hiccups in life. It’s up to you to rise up and overcome these tribulations.

I hike to test myself both mentally and physically. I want to know exactly what I’m capable of, and then push myself further. I want to continue evolving as not only an athlete, but also as an individual. I want to experience life as it’s happening, instead of rushing by in a car or on a plane.

I want to stand on top of mountains knowing that I got myself there on my own two feet. There’s an incredible sense of accomplishment and belonging when you reach a summit. I get an overwhelming surge of happiness, because despite everything I’ve been through, I don’t let it hold me back.

I hike to live my own life, instead of one that has already been played out by countless others.

I hike to better understand my needs and wants. We live in a world that is constantly bombarding us to buy “stuff,” of which almost all of it is meaningless.

I hike to get a better understanding of the country I live in, and to see the raw, natural part of life that is so easily forgotten in our society.

I hike to experience freedom from technology. In today’s modern world we’re constantly plugged in. We have a multitude of media sources being streamed to us at all hours. We have Facebook, Twitter, the news, the radio, and countless other sources all feeding us an overbearing amount of information. It’s nice to be removed from all the “noise” and to focus strictly on the present.

I hike to be able to share my experiences with others who may not be able to get out there to see it themselves.

 I hike to meet people from all over the world and to gain a better understanding of my fellow neighbors.

I hike to develop lifelong friendships with people who share the same enthusiasm for nature as me.

I hike to let my imagination soar and to be open to new thoughts and ideas.

I hike to show others that we are capable of anything we set our mind to. Our dreams can become reality, all we have to do is believe in ourselves and maintain a positive outlook on life.

*************

It is my wish that everyone will take hold of their dreams. It doesn’t matter how big or small they may be. If it’s important to you, go for it! Don’t let anyone decide your life for you. If you believe it’s possible… it is.

Come May 1st I’ll start hiking North from Mexico to Canada. Follow your dreams and passions. I’ve had a lot of people ask how they can help, so I’ve set up this site…

http://www2.myregistry.com/public/Sara-Fry

I also handknit beanies and 100% of the profit goes towards my CDT Fund. You can find the hats under the “Shop” tab.