I got into hiking six years ago after climbing Acatenango in Guatemala. Even though I grew up in the Adirondacks and hiked plenty over the years, I had never gained an appreciation for it. It took an overnight trek up a volcano to an elevation of 13,045 feet to make me understand how exhilarating and breathtaking hiking can be. After that climb, I’ve continued on a quest to find one soul-satisfying hike after the next. Some of my favorite hiking adventures since have taken me to the Grand Tetons, Alaska and Sequoia National Park.
As I started to see the wilderness through new lenses, I began to realize that my experience was limited to what I could climb in a more lateral fashion, and so I became curious about rock climbing, thinking that could give me a whole new vantage point.
I took my first rock climbing class this past September in Moab, UT with the incredible Aimee Barnes, through The Mountain Guides. She is one of the sport’s OG’s, especially when it comes to female climbers. Over the course of two days, Aimee taught me and my friend the basics of rope tying and belaying and gave us the chance to ascent a variety of climbs. What was most memorable about that lesson was feeling Aimee’s incredible energy. I got to a point, right before our last climb, where I was about ready to pass out from exhaustion, but seeing Aimee glide right up that last tower and then effortlessly belay my friend up it, gave me the jolt I needed to power myself up as well, although not nearly as gracefully, I am sure!
After that experience, I felt hooked and had to plan my next lesson. This time, a little closer to home. Good thing that The Mountain Guides also have a location in Red Rock, NV, about a four hour drive from me. It was early November, and the temperatures were starting to cool. As I set off to meet my guide Samantha, it was in the forties with a chance of rain. My Raynaud’s was setting in hard core, and my hands were losing circulation quickly. But I did my best to elicit some outdoorsy style mental toughness! And Samantha did her best to keep me warm and safe, but unfortunately, there was nothing anyone could do for the strong winds, frigid air and the oncoming rain. About halfway into the lesson, I was climbing rock that I couldn’t feel at all, as my hands had gone completely numb.
The rain set in, and we had to wrap our class early, but Samantha could tell that I wasn’t ready to end my adventures just yet, so she suggested a hike nearby. She pointed in the direction of some boulders overhead and told me to set out in that direction. If it weren’t for Samantha, I never would have thought that terrain was possible to climb without technical gear. But she was 100% right! The rain had stopped, and I headed out with a newfound energy. The landscape was magical, especially in that misty light, and I felt almost like a pioneer exploring untraversed terrain.
I reached the top fairly effortlessly, but on my way back down, it started to rain again and even began lighting; it felt dangerous in all the right ways. I felt of the earth and sky and invigorated by a sense of wild abandon.
Eventually I made it back to my car safely, and as I sit here recounting this adventure, I am grateful that we at Fat Leaf Water have now formed a partnership with The Mountain Guides, as our community will have access to their valuable expertise. At its core, Fat Leaf Water is a lifestyle brand that taps into the desire within all of us to feel good while we move, so this partnership is a natural fit. I look forward to many energizing adventures to come for us all, whether they happen on a yoga mat, hitting the pavement, or climbing dazzling red rock.
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Elyse Sara is the Founder of Fat Leaf Water, a cactus-water based sports hydration beverage, that is currently available on Amazon. She is based in Long Beach, CA and planning her next adventure.