“Hurry, hurry”, they shouted, “a flash flood is coming!” Amy and I took off, thoughts of heavy packs and blistered feet gone. We sprinted across the road, looking up it see an almost disappointingly small flash flood filled with debris coming down the wash, and as we slowed down a hundred yards later we made eye contact, laughing breathlessly. It was just one of the countless moments where I knew in my gut I was with kindred spirits, women who found fun in the face of challenge. As the other girls caught up with us (they hadn’t felt the need to sprint) we just laughed at our antics, the kind of big belly laughs that stay with you long after.
Last weekend I participated in a little social experiment, or at least that’s what I considered it at first. I got a DM on Instagram from a gal I followed, Morgan Brechler, asking if I wanted to go backpacking into the Grand Canyon, a place I’d never been, with a couple dozen women, who, for the most part, had never met. The answer was an immediate yes. Yet leading up to it, as I pulled into the parking lot at 3:30am to meet them, I felt some trepidation. Spending three days with that many women was something I’d never done before, and it stretched my comfort zone just a little (by which I mean a lot).
Growing up I didn’t relate super well to other girls, and tended to hang out with the boys much more—it’s only in the last few years that I feel like I’ve finally found my tribe of women. Women who equate their femininity with strength and get as excited about the unknown and adventure as I do. And these women? They were all exactly that. As I got to know them I saw in each of them a woman who approached life on her own terms, and it left me beyond inspired and a little bit in awe.
In three days we jumped off countless waterfalls, outran storms and floods, hiked through the night, logged around 35 miles of trails, laughed until our bellies ached, explored one the most magical places I’ve ever been, waded through river waters turned blood red by the storms, camped out in a the Supai gym because of flooding, and most importantly, made new friends that somehow felt like old ones by the time the trip was over.
A few days later, the lovely Shannon Bennett wrote a lovely post about the trip and about saying yes. It struck a chord with me deeply. At the beginning of this summer, I set out to say yes as much as humanly possible, even when it might make me uncomfortable or if it seemed at first impossible, and to hear that same sentiment echoed in her further strengthened my resolve to just say YES. Why? Because you never know where it might take you and who it might bring into your life.
Photos (C) 2015 Aly Nicklas
An Alaskan with a penchant for the open road and living an authentic life, Aly has a deep love for wild places and wild people. A writer, photographer and filmmaker, she is committed to telling stories that move, empower and inspire others to live life fully and to be a contribution to this planet and its people. When she’s not on the road climbing and exploring with her best friend, Babba Mikooey, a ten-year-old dingo she rescued over a decade ago, Aly is working happily in her Boulder, CO. office, and playing in the Colorado mountains.