If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (thank you!) if you are newer (welcome) you may want to read one of these two posts so you have the backstory on the knee injury I suffered a year ago.
At the start of this year I set a goal for myself to hike on skis (a.k.a. “Skin”) to the tipy-top of Mt. Mansfield. At an elevation of 4,393 feet, climbing to the top of this mountain is a challenge for anyone. For me it would be an extra challenge because I was still re-building the strength in my right quadricep following my knee surgery. I had been faithfully rehabbing for months, doing my PT at the gym and I mentally wanted a finish line to work toward. That finish line would be my first Skin to the top of the mountain.I knew this challenge would be just as much physical as it would be mental. There will always be a before and after my injury. I am cautious now where I used to be confident; I get nervous the first time I try any activity again, unsure if my body will fail me like it did last spring. It doesn’t matter what the activity, a lunge, spinning, skiing, running on a treadmill, forget running a road race I am scared just to try running outside again, you get the point I am cautious worried to injury myself again. It also doesn’t matter how many times I have done an activity before I have this feeling my body can’t do it anymore, I am no longer confident.My silver lining is that I am achieving new personal records for myself at a rapid pace. I love the feeling of accomplishment with each tiny milestone. Like the first time I was able to run again on a treadmill. The distance was only .25mi, and my pace was 5mph closer to how fast I used to walk with these long legs. I was holding onto the side rails for dear life, and I couldn’t listen to music for fear of falling off the treadmill. It was exhilarating (maybe a little terrifying) like no run had been before, because I was setting a post-surgery PR.The night before my first Skin I was anxious. I should note for clarity’s sake that this was not my first skin post surgery this was my first skin EVER in my life. I prepped my gear: proper layers, AT skis + Boots, headlamp, backpack, skins, and water for the way up. A down jacket, neck warmer, fresh base layer, gloves, and helmet for the descent. While preparing, I mapped out the spots I could safely turn back along the journey to the top. Ideally you need a flat(ish) spot with minimal wind to strip the skins from the skis and adjust your layers before skiing back down. I was convinced I wouldn’t make it the whole way to the top on my first attempt, and that was A-ok with me. My silver lining in this feeling is that I learned to give myself permission and the grace to only do things that I enjoy and am comfortable with. If I am not grinning from ear to ear, I will stop without a moment of hesitation or guilt. In the past I carried too much pride to stop or change course.We set off at 6am that morning, hoping to catch the sunrise somewhere along our ascent. There were six ladies including myself and I prepped everyone that I would need to take it at my own pace, did not plan reach the summit on this first try, and that they should not wait up for me. I think the ladies sensed my trepidation and set a moderate pace so I wouldn’t fall behind. As they each made stops throughout our journey to get water, change a layer or stretch I carried on, I feared that if I stopped I would lose steam and I wanted to stay slow and steady.At some point I realized that I had made it past all my planned turn around spots, maybe just maybe I could make it to the top on my first try. I was feeling remarkably good, loving the feeling of strength powered by my legs plodding their way up the mountain. One step after another, higher and higher we climbed. Hard truth: Today whenever I start to feel like I am on an emotional or physical high I worry that something is going to sideswipe me and knock me down again. Last May when I blew out my knee I was on a serious high, I finally had the creative outlet of this blog, I had just done my first branding shoot, I was meeting new people, life was good, I felt invincible. While I wish I could have been knocked back down to earth differently there was something very grounding about this humbling experience.I climbed the final stretch of the mountain with tears pouring down my cheeks, I had accomplished my goal. I intentionally climbed a little slower soaking in this moment, the scenery, the support I felt from my friends who had been there the whole way silently cheering me on. I thought about the journey of the past hour and a half, and then of the past year leading up to this moment. All the hours of physical therapy, the support of my husband, family, and friends. Recovering from this injury was my mountain, my mountain to climb. No one could complete this journey but me, and there is no way I could have done it alone. Thank you!A huge thank you to Sarah Peet Photography for joining me on this awesome adventure, she captured all the gorgeous photos in this post all while skinning herself! To be able to document this moment was a dream come true. I also have to thank the awesome Vermont brands that outfitted me for this endeavor, RENOUN skis, Turtle Fur accessories, and AJs Ski&Sport/Arc’teryx jacket and pants. As a brand marketing professional I had a vision that I not only wanted to Skin to the top, I wanted to highlight local brands and businesses, I am so happy you were all game to support this Lil’ Vermont Adventure.Thank you for reading!