11. Running Down Mountains

Melissa goes on her first solo trip hiking in British Columbia, where she learns to trust her instincts and find solace in solitude. 

Follow her adventures on Instagram at @miss.rover. Check out her travel blog at www.missrover.com

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Leah Falyn


(Intro quote) Melissa: Instantly, as soon as I checked the weather and saw that like severe thunderstorms rolling in, it just started down pouring. So I just like threw everything in my bag. Just started basically running down the trail.

Leah: Welcome to Wander By Proxy, a podcast featuring women’s travel stories that connect them more to themselves in the world around them. I’m Leah Falyn. And today we have Melissa Miller, who jped hurdle after hurdle to get to British Colbia. Here’s Melissa. 

Melissa: So I decided to move to Alaska. , On this trip, my ex was supposed to come with me. He broke up with me, like, I think it was like two weeks before we were going to leave together. So that was the first thing. So then I frantically just started reaching out to people on Instagram, like, Hey, do you want to come backpacking with me?

I’m going to Alaska. Like how much of this journey do you want to come with me on? Like, I was just so. I feel like I got caught up and just like, I can’t do this alone. Like, why would I do this alone? And just started frantically yeah. Reaching out to people. So I was able to get my friend to commit, I thought to this.

 so it was a one nighter planned. , we had one planned for like just North of Vancouver, British Colbia, like the tunnel Bluffs. And then the next night we were going to do Garibaldi Lake, which is pretty popular. There’s Panorama Ridge up there that everyone goes to like so many viral pictures of that.

So it, yeah, it’s very popular, definitely needed permits.

So I got the permit, all this, , ah, got it ready. And the day I was heading up they’re from Seattle. She just was totally nonresponsive on the phone,

which kind of made me panic, but I was like, Oh, it’s okay. Like I’ll get into Canada. And then, you know, just kind of wait and see if she responds and nothing. So the first backpacking trip I did alone and it was fine and I didn’t sleep at all. But then this, the story I want to tell is for actually the second night of backpacking solo, which was a more intense hike.

The first one wasn’t that big of a deal. This next one, Garibaldi Lake was it’s like seven miles in 3,300 elevation gain. I had to, I had to look it up cause I couldn’t remember if I was just making it up in my mind that it was difficult or if it was actually kind of difficult. And I think 3,300 feet elevation gain is decent.

And it’s, it’s interesting because before all this, before I left to go to Alaska, I was starting to compile stories from other women that had traveled solo. I wanted to make this like magazine spread of these women that had traveled solo and did all these cool things. And I had never traveled solo.

So it was kind of like, it felt like the universe was like, ha ha you will. , so yeah, I got to the trail head packing up and just instance what, like it, they don’t mess around on that trail. It’s just like instant elevation. There’s, you know, normal chatty old men that felt like they needed to converse.

So I was trying to either speed up or go slow, but I did to camp, I set up and I rest for a bit and make dinner. And I decide since I was feeling all energized and empowered, backpacking solo for the second night in a row that I was going to go hike to Panorama Ridge and try to get pictures for my blog and for Instagram.

Do it kind of do it? No, I it’s. It’s actually hilarious. Cause I have zero pictures from this trip. I really get into that. So this from the camp spot, so seven miles up to the camp and then to Panorama Ridge, it was another four miles and 2000 elevation gain. So I started, I like timed it out.

I was like, all right. Sunset will be around this time. So if I get there like this, look, it’d be more time. You know, I just planned out at the time and left and, , I brought my tripod and my camera and it was gorgeous. But as soon as I hit, like, I think I was a mile and a half or two miles. And I realized, yeah, like, no one CA like hiking towards the same destination as me, everyone was coming back from it.

I was like, okay, that’s fine. Like, they just. They wouldn’t need to get back or maybe they were just day hiking. It’s fine. , I’m trudging along and it’s like, there’s no one out there. And it was kind of just, it looked like bear country too. It was just like, you know how some places just like, it just looks like bears live there.

 This was one of those places. , aye. I, so my tripod turns out. Is too lightweight for my camera. I had like a new camera. It was a Canon add and it was it’s big. So this camera, this tripod was designed for like a small camera. And as soon as I put my camera on it just like fell and broke. So there were no, yes.

I couldn’t get any photos, like, unless I propped like it on a rock, but there were no rocks. Like it was just miserable. I was like, all right, this is not for photo content. So I put my camera in my bag. I did like a lot nose, like a half a mile from this viewpoint. And I don’t know, like if the listeners are familiar with Panorama Ridge, but you Google it, it’s like, You did up to this top viewpoint and it’s just sweeping views of mountains and the water below.

So it’s like this really blue water and like snowcap mountains, it’s breathtaking. I think photos that I’ve seen. So I’m a half a mile from the viewpoint and I just start seeing these dark clouds, like really quickly rolling in. So I pull out my. Little Garmin GPS and I do is like, cause I just got this, this Garmin.

So I was like, Ooh, fancy. I will check the weather on my Garmin and yeah. Extreme thunderstorms. , which I like, I’m a pretty. Type a like prepared person. So like I had checked the weather before and it was smer. Like it had been really hot and warm and dry. And so I just, honestly didn’t really even think about like rain, like rain gear at all.

Like I didn’t have it jacket on me. I didn’t have sly for my backpack with my camera. Like I didn’t have. Anything. And it was like instantly, as soon as I checked the weather and saw that like severe thunderstorms rolling in, it just started down pouring. So I just like threw everything in my bag. Just started like running, basically running down the trail.

Cause I, my camera’s in my bag. I have no waterproof care and I knew I had like three and a half miles to get back to my tent. Thank goodness. I was smart enough to put up my rain fly on my tent before leaving. That would have been anyway. So running down the trail, I think it was like a half a mile into my frantic, like rain running that I’m like, wait, what if I startled a bear violet running up onto them.

So that that’s what started going through my brain. So it was like, okay, I need to be. Loud and alert the bears of my presence, my very distressed presence. So I’m pretty sure I was trying to think today of what songs I ended up singing. I honestly think the Sylvan Esso die young song was like the first one that popped into my head.

, Yeah, right. Some others that were nicer were like Maggie Rogers, Alaska, I think towards the end of my, just like I was just so exhausted and like frantic, it turns into more like alt J style where I’m just like rambling jibberish.

Leah: I can actually see that that seems like a perfect fit.

Melissa: Oh my gosh. There was even like an outhouse. I think it was like two miles down that I was eyeing and I stopped for a moment.

It was like, should I just like hide out in this outhouse for a minute? And I think I got close enough to it where I like caught a whip and I was like, Nope, I’m just gonna going to face my destiny here. And my fate and keep going. So, yeah, I made it back camp with no pictures and I got into my tent and it was still just down pouring.

And I just remember getting in there and was soaked and just started lying, laughing hysterically. But there was no one there to judge. There was no, like, you couldn’t hear me, even if there were like, the brain was still loud and. Yeah, it, I think it was just like that whole trip. Wasn’t about like, making sure someone else had a good time.

It wasn’t about it. Well, it started off, you know, like, Oh, I could create some social media content here, but quickly became not that. And then it was just me and my thoughts and making myself laugh and being, yeah.

Leah: you said something about like, , that’s the day you started trusting yourself. How about if you could go into that a little bit more?

Melissa: Yeah. So I  just, up to this point, I was. Collaborating with so many people. And I was honestly just never really alone. Like I never had spent much time alone leading up to like my breakup and leaving Seattle, like my friend group. So just like, I mean, one just being alone with like my own thoughts and like having to reflect on everything in my life was like, that was a big moment for me.

And then. Just throughout that whole experience of like making it down this mountain alive. And, you know, I was, yes. Maybe I was a little overdramatic. Yeah. But like, this was my second night packing, solo something. I thought I was never going to do like that near something, you know, I thought it was like maybe after another year of backpacking, like with friends, maybe I’ll do it, but.

Just being  forced into it and doing it anyway, even though I was terrified,  I learned to rely on myself and it  pushed the boundaries of what I thought I could do, , what I was capable of. So I think that day I really learned to trust myself and trust what I was capable of.

Leah: That’s awesome. And what you were saying about being alone almost reminds me about what a, myself included in. Probably a lot of other people went through with quarantine, whereas like, I just had a full calendar January and February, and then all that went away. And regardless of if you have social connections around, you’re just saying like, Oh wow, it’s just me here.

  do you think you’re an extrovert or an introvert?

Melissa: So like that was at my height of like extroversion. I was like networking so religiously. , but I feel like. That experience and starting to backpack solo and spend time on the road solo. Like it made me honestly more of like an ambivert that like, up until that I would have totally claimed extrovert, but finally having time to myself and realizing the value of that, like made me crave it more and kind of, I still to this day, like want to spend more time alone.

So now I’m claiming ambiverts.

Leah: I am with you a hundred percent. So what have you, what have you taken from that day? Even that night, where you were running by yourself down a Hill singing songs for your life, you thought at least which I completely understand.

, what did you take. From that from moving forward the next day, even.

Melissa: Yeah. I mean, it was just like the rest of my road trips seemed less scary. Like just adventures in general by myself. Like it was something I always told myself I would do like, Oh, I’m not gonna. You know, not do something just because someone can’t come with me. Like, I don’t want my life to be controlled that way, but yet my life was controlled that way up until this point.

Like I always had to find someone to go with me. So I really just think like that self reliance and self trust was just, Oh, it’s priceless.

Leah: Okay, You live in Eureka, California, which is really coincidental because I. I’ve been working remotely for two and a half years. And for about a year and a half of that, I was just jping around the United States for every three months.

Pretty much. So one of those three months slots was me in Eureka, California in it I’ve been daydreaming about it ever since, not specifically Eureka, maybe, but like just the parks, just like this crazy adventure. 30 to even 10 minutes away is amazing. And I’ve just been daydreaming about it all through quarantine because in my head it’s the most perfect place to be one of them anyway.

And I just think it’s so funny that you’re there.

Melissa: That is so amazing. I mean, yeah. Eureka has the redwoods, the dunes, the coast, like the mountains are not that far away. So, so lucky.

Leah: It’s amazing, like red, I just driving through Eureka redwoods in people’s yards, which

Melissa: Oh, I know.

Leah: blows my mind.  I’m back in Minneapolis now. And the trees are just so subpar to me even like a more a year and a half later. , so I think that’s awesome. What have you been doing to keep the adventurous spirit alive?

Melissa: Yeah. So, I mean, since I’ve only been in Eureka since February, I mean, all of this is pretty new for me. So local exploring hasn’t been a problem for me because it’s all brand new, beautiful. I mean the redwoods, but also like packing up the car and going out East to the rivers spots like exploring locally, making sure I’m not acting in a communities by just in it, in the car.

It’s adventurous and it’s, it’s, it gets me out exploring.

Leah: Thank you for listening to this episode of Wander By Proxy, you can check out Melissa’s travel www.missrover.com and follow her beautiful adventures on Instagram at
@miss.rover. If you liked this episode, feel free to subscribe and review wherever you’re listening! To see guest photos and episode recaps, follow Wander By Proxy on Instagram or Facebook. 

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