At the very conception, Small Towns to Summits was imagined as being a month-long road trip where Alex and I took a bit of time off work and interviewed a few people on the way as we traveled through the country. As the project developed into what it is today, it was clear that some serious life decisions, and some sacrifices, were going to have to be made in order to pursue this idea we just couldn’t stop thinking about.
Going into my last year of college at the University of San Diego, I anticipated that I would forever dread the “so what are you doing next year??” question. I have never had a good answer for what I wanted to do with my future, or what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I went through a phase where I told people I wanted to be the first female president of the United States (sorry Hillary), but that was mostly to get a few laughs. As I began my four years with USD and absolutely fell in love with sociology, my plans changed between going straight to grad school, finding a job in the field for a few years, and traveling the world with whatever money I could save about once a week. In the fall of 2018 when I dove headfirst into my love of hiking and the outdoors as Alex and I escaped to the mountains nearly every weekend, every idea that I had for my future existed only if in front of the backdrop of a snowcapped peak. When our excited talks about Small Towns to Summits began to snowball into more than just a fun summer trip and develop to a serious opportunity to pursue both of our passions – all of my half formed future plans cleared the way to allow these next few months to lead me wherever this project takes us.
For me, the timing was ideal. I had no full-time job to quit or a lease to break – the biggest leap of faith I’ve taken in choosing to chase summits this summer is my lack of back up or safety plan. While all my friends were applying for jobs and scouring for housing after graduation, I was writing grant applications and planning events to scrape together the funds we need to make this project happen. While there were undoubtedly more than a few moments where I pondered how much easier and comfier it would be to stay in San Diego and continue working at Edge, a job I absolutely love, I reignited my passionate fire by simply looking through photos and videos from the times Alex and I have already shared in the mountains. My best and most creative work simply comes when I am inspired – and there is nothing in this world that can motivate me more than having the opportunity to spread our love of the outdoors and their surrounding communities. The moments and memories that are to come are entirely unpredictable, but having the platform to share the stories we gather is a chance that no amount of comfort in the city can compare to.
I’ve made a lot of changes over the past year and a half, but nothing has felt as exciting or full of potential as Small Towns to Summits. After graduating from college, I spent a year living in downtown LA and trying to pursue a career in the TV/Film industry. I was pretty unhappy, and found the mountains as a way to escape from the stress. Pretty soon, I realized that I didn’t want the mountains to be my escape, but rather I needed to find a fulfilling career to pursue that kept me outdoors. I moved to San Diego in August of 2017, not sure what my next step would be.
I spent some time applying to different marketing jobs and ended up at a startup that gave me the opportunity to work in the tech/outdoors industries. As the digital marketing coordinator, I learned a lot of valuable skills that I’m really grateful for. I worked on some exciting projects, but in the back of my mind, I knew this was not a long term position. I realized that I cannot sit at a desk from 9-5 Mon-Fri. I wanted to be creative, I wanted to be on the trail, and I knew I needed to take a leap of faith if I wanted to make that happen.
When Katie and I first started hiking together, I don’t think I had the confidence in myself to believe that I could do something like this. While I was helping Katie reach physical summits, she was definitely helping me overcome emotional ones. After summitting Mt. Whitney together, that was it. That car ride home when we first thought of Small Towns to Summits sealed the deal. While Katie and I do have a couple of years separating us, it feels like we’re at similar points in our lives. Without trying to sound cheesy, it does feel like we were brought together to pursue this. We have both had to deal with anxiety and fear going into this, but now that it’s happening, we know that we have each other’s backs. And no matter how this summer goes and what the “final product” is, I’m confident it’s going to change us for the better. Our goal is to make a positive impact, no matter how big or small, and I believe we’ll reach that goal.
When we first started planning, I watched an interview with Jimmy Chin, someone I look up to for inspiration, and a quote of his stuck with me:
It’s a bigger question. It’s about finding your purpose and finding what gives you meaning and finding things that you are inspired by and passionate about. But when you find something that gives you that drive and purpose – you have to be relentless regardless – but it’s a lot easier when you find something with meaning behind it.
Every decision in life can be scary. Every change comes with good and bad.
To me, there isn’t a secret on “how to quit your job and pursue your passion.”
It’s going to be hard, and you’re going to have to be relentless in that pursuit – but you just need to do it.
In just a little over two weeks, these two separate stories are finally going to come together as we take Billy, a green lil Kia Soul, around the Western United States. Besides the outline of our itinerary, we have a ton of flexibility to allow ourselves to fully soak in these experiences – and a few upcoming events already scheduled!
Check us out at the Women’s Empowerment Tour in Palo Alto on June 20th and in Seattle on July 25th! Right before we hit the road, we will be sharing a bit more about our personal journeys alongside other women who have let go of fear in search of their dreams. About a month into our journey, we will have yet another opportunity to share some insight on the challenges and moments of triumph we can only now anticipate.
Click here for tickets in Palo Alto – there’s still a few left!
If you missed our event with Edge Cycle, make sure to check out our latest vlog here and keep your eye out for more upcoming features, events, and posts as the clock continues to countdown to our road trip FINALLY beginning!