Field Notes Entry 1: Excavation of the Why

I hope I never let myself get used to a desk job. I’m pretty sure I get up and take a lap around the office every 30 minutes or so. I can imagine how obnoxious that might be, making it very clear I haven’t sat at a desk since fifth grade. . . and we got recess than too.

All the sticky notes, highlighters, and thumbtacks aside, Colorado has already left a big sweaty stain on my heart. And a few bruises on my shins from just being clumsy on the trail. I didn’t waste a second to get out and and let the mountains take me where they wished. This desk job leaves me even more excited to get out. It is a job at Backpacker Magazine, which I can remember finding online and thinking, yeah, in my wildest dreams. I have learned more in the last two weeks than I feel like I ever have in almost four years at school.

Not that AP style and current event quizzes don’t give me goosebumps (those might be out of fear), but walking in this office the first time, I felt the hair on my arms stand up and the fire in my stomach was lit (I think those were out of sheer excitement and disbelief). I can’t explain how grateful I am to be where I am, in this exact moment---sitting at my desk, thumbtacking a postcard of Rocky Mountain to my cubicle, and about to dive into fact-checking some gear trends for the September issue.

A stack of old issues of Backpacker is stacked high next to me. Research, I’ve been calling it, to get idea of the voice I’m suppose to use. Gear lines the other side of my desk---a red Half Dome tent from REI, a box of gomacro bars, about eight different pairs of glacier glasses, and a few odds and ends from other gear that gets left here on whim. I don’t know where or why it’s here, but it just confirms exactly what I’d hoped this internship would be like.

Sitting at this cubicle from 9-5, helping where I’m needed, does give me a lot of time to think. And brainstorm. And try get all my ideas down on paper. I went to my first pitch meeting last week, and man, I was left trying to figure out what I felt in the pit of my stomach. Maybe it was nerves from speaking up in front of the staff the first time, but never in my life have I felt such an urge to do something. While I can’t say what we discussed, I can say that the gears in my head did not stop turning and have not stopped since then. I haven’t been able to fall asleep very quickly, like I normally do, because I can’t shut my brain off. I now keep a notepad on my nightstand in case I really need to write something down. Writer’s insomnia, maybe?

Inspired. That’s the best way to describe what I’ve felt.

After that pitch meeting, Cathy and I went for a walk at golden hour. The sunset is truly taken to the next level here. It turns the fields a soft yellow and the sky bright pink. I love the way it peeks through the taller grass out in the foothills, glinting softly through kicked up mountain dust.

It was a feeling of being on fire for something I had never known before, accept maybe for Jesus. But that only confirmed why I am here.

I walked next to Cathy and looked up at the sky and tried to string together in some words how I felt. It didn’t go very well---the putting together of words--- because I think I had too many thoughts rushing about in my head, all getting mixed up because I didn’t have anywhere to write them down.

SO. I am attempting to do that now.

I know I was meant to be a writer. I feel that with every fiber in my body. I am so grateful for that day in high school when environmental science got really hard and my mom suggested I consider becoming a writer. I had thought about pursuing environmental engineering because I would be attending a polytechnic college next fall. But a day came where I can remember staring in dismay at my homework on calculating half-life and wanted to cry. This was not who I was going to be, lost in equations and molecules and climate change anxiety. There had to be another way I was going to make a difference because that’s what I mainly felt called to do. Environmental science seemed the most practical way to do that.

When my mom saw me at the kitchen table, utterly crushed by my homework, she made the suggestion that I rethink what I was going to study after high school.

Enter my change of heart and mind. Thank goodness for my mom.

I became a journalism major because that seemed to be the next best thing when it comes to making a difference. And now, more than ever, with state of the world and where we as the media stand, I feel my job is more important than ever.

After my first day on the job here at BACKPACKER, I think something clicked because I was finally in an environment where I could contribute and create meaningful work. I think that’s my goal this summer. And to visit ALL the national parks in the area. So if you’re looking to take a roadtrip weekend- warrior-style please hit me up.

One thing I want to work on while I’m here: excavation. I want to dig deep and discover what I am made of. I think that looks like finally churning out a decent outline for my book and researching like crazy to contribute what’s new and happening now in the backpacking world. I want to uncover all of the ideas I have ever had and put them down on paper to flush them out and get down to what’s important.

I am already overwhelmed with what I want to accomplish and I’ve barely been here for two weeks. Thank goodness for friends who enjoy hiking and driving and experiencing the world as much as I do.

I want to uncover why my connection to the outdoors is so special and why it’s so important to me. I want to dust off the dreams I put on the shelf when I started college because suddenly homework and writing articles became my priority. I’ve done some priority shifting, and I as approach my final quarter at Poly this fall, it’s important now, more than ever, to ask WHY.

Why does the sight of the mountains make my heart flutter, my palms sweat, and my feet dance? Why does connecting to myself and others seem so much easier in the outdoors? Why do I care so much about what happens to Bears Ears? What is it that fuels this fire to just get out?

We’ll just have to wait and see.