Fitness Self

I Climbed a Mountain and Found Myself


Half Dome Top

I always had this dream of hiking to the top Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Each year I would travel to Yosemite with my sixth graders for a week of outdoor science school, and I would look to the mountain and dream of standing on top. Every day that I stood in the valley I would marvel at Half Dome’s beauty. It seemed to beckon me.

Half Dome Snow Capped

That, I thought, would be like standing on top of the world. But other than those thoughts, I was not much of a hiker. Sure I accompanied my students on their day hikes one week out of the year, but that was the extent of it.

Yosemite Class Hike

Then my ex-husband walked out the door. And I literally and figuratively fell into a deep abyss. Not liking the darkness that surrounded me, I instinctively laced up a pair of hiking boots and started climbing. I joined a Team in Training hiking group (at that point in my life I did not have hiking friends), and every Saturday we would meet at a county park and hike. The fact that I began my hiking journey with strangers was comforting. No one knew me. No one knew my past. I was starting a new life, meeting new people, and making new friends along the way. I was figuring out who I was and what I wanted. Those first few hikes were hard, but the more I hiked  – the stronger I got, and the better I felt.

Hike Warning

There is something truly magical and healing about hiking. Every time I got onto a trail I was surrounding myself in nature; breathing in the scent of the trees; pushing my body physically; and all of this together, helped heal and renew my spirit. I had climbed (and dragged) myself out of the darkness. I also quite literally fell in love with hiking.


After months of training, I made it to the top of Half Dome! And yes, it felt as though I was standing on top of the world! With an total elevation of 8,842 feet, a gain of 4,800 feet, and 15 hours spent on the trail and mountain top  – it was the highest and longest hike I have ever accomplished! Still to this day.

Half Dome BaseHalf Dome Cables

Half Dome Victory

Top of Half Dome

No, I did not quit hiking. I hike often! I am lucky in that I live in the middle of many county parks, and I have been fortunate to hike a few destinations as well.  This last January my husband and I traveled to Sedona to hike – that was amazing scenery.


In April I hiked Aspen with my daughter – again such beauty!


I have also hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Pacific Crest Trail

Tahoe Crest Rim

When Gavin and I first started dating, our first whole-day date was a day hiking Pinnacles National Park.


And this summer my husband and I have joined our County Parks’ Parks for Life Challenge. Getting out and hiking hills and mountains has become part of our life. So much so that the kids have come to enjoy hiking as well. It has become a favorite family activity.

family hike

In my world a perfect weekend day is to pack a backpack with snacks, food, water, sunscreen, mini first-aid kit, Chapstick, and a trail map; lace up my boots; and head for the hills. Nothing beats a walk trough the forest, listening to birds, spotting wild life, taking in the fresh scent of nature, and enjoying the silence.

Hike Bridge

When I started hiking I was lost. While trekking miles upon miles of trails, I began to find myself again. As I hiked I became stronger, fitter, lighter, and healthier.  My new weekend activity was bolstering my mental and physical well being.



And gave me the confidence to swim more oceans…

Ocean Swim

and to complete more triathlons.

Lavaman Finish Line

Hiking has taught me that if I can climb a mountain, I can do anything. It takes huge amounts of mental, physical, and emotional strength to get to a mountain top. Preparedness, know your route and plan accordingly, along with perseverance, putting one food in front of the other, will get you there. That is true for so much in life. Prepare and persevere and eventually you will arrive at your goal. Some mountains we climb are higher than others, but with time and work we can all stand on top.


(25) Comments

  1. […] I Climbed a Mountain and Found Myself […]

  2. Frank says:

    So this was all for a vitamin ad? You really had me on the story and gave me an uplifting feeling about life only to let me down by seeing this is an ad. I guess this world really is just all about money i was a fool to think otherwise.

  3. […] I Climbed a Mountain and Found Myself […]

  4. What an amazing accomplishment and journey you have been on! Hiking is an amazing way to enjoy nature and your own limits. Love all your photos and so glad to hear you have been on the Pacific Crest Trail. [client]

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks, Andrea. I would love to spend more time on PCT! IF I had discovered hiking when I was younger, I like to think that I would have hiked large portions of it.

  5. WOW, you are truly inspiring. it is funny how one little thing can set off a lifetime of goals and accomplishments. thanks for sharing your story and good luck on your next adventure.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you! One thing about divorce after a 20+ year marriage, you do a lot of soul searching. For good or for bad, it is a time to reflect and rebuild.

  6. I love this, healing in hiking. What a beautiful testimony of cultivating joy.

    1. Stacey says:

      It was the best thing I could have done for myself that year. Hands down better and cheaper than any therapist I tried.

  7. That is so great. What amazing achievements you’ve made.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you! It was a ling journey preparing – and so worth it!

  8. Wow, what a great accomplishment and truly inspirational.

  9. Great photography. Looks like you had an awesome time.

  10. Love your post! Beautiful pictures too!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you!

  11. What gorgeous photos! I loved reading your story!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you! It was a very long dat that started in darkeness and ended in darkness – with incredible views in between!

  12. Wow! What great adventures! I love hiking with my kids, but Half Dome is quite the feat! Good for you!

    1. Stacey says:

      It was a huge feat for me. I know others that make it look easy. 🙂 I enjoy our local hills and trails as well. I love that you hike with your kids. Mine took a long time to convert – I should have started them younger. But as I write this my oldest daughter is out backpacking in Colorado. A love of the outdoors is a great gift to our children.

  13. Amazing. I could NEVER! My greatest fear is heights.

    1. Stacey says:

      There were people truly terrified of heights headed up the cables as well that day. Some froze for periods of time. Everyone around above and below them on the lines were most encouraging. No one moves if someone stops. I met a few people that truly faced a great fear that day. 🙂 They were impressive!

  14. Wow, what a stunning journey! I can’t imagine the endurance that it takes to hike a mountain and the emotional journey that it causes!

    1. Stacey says:

      You are right – it is huge on all fronts. And the entire time you are going through this you are surrounded in vast beauty.

  15. Way to go! I love your determination! Those pictures are totally breath taking and I can only hope to view look at them with my own eyes… Thanks for sharing!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you. Yosemite Valley is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited.

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