Hannah has shown her support for Small Towns to Summits before our website even officially launched (way back in March now!) With a donation of $1,000, Hannah became our first “mountaineer” level contributor, which means that she is the official sponsor of our Mt. Shasta climb and our time featuring Weed, CA. Before we hit the road from Clayton, we had the opportunity to sit down with Hannah and dig more into her passion for architecture, memories of hiking, and what Small Towns to Summits means to her.
Hannah grew up in Clayton, CA – a small town of roughly 10,000 at the base of Mt. Diablo. While Diablo definitely is not one of the largest peaks in California, it can hold its own as an impressive landmark. So often, we travel to beautiful places around the globe and seemingly miss the beauty we have right in our backyards.
That’s the view I saw every day driving home from high school. It’s a big part of my life… and when I’m away for a long time I definitely miss it. I never seem to realize how much I am missing it until I see it.. It’s an incredible view. Where we live is incredible and moving away helped me to experience appreciating it and not just taking it for granted. I feel like you have to question yourself and push yourself in order to really appreciate the things you’ve been taking for granted.
We chatted for a bit about different places in the world that spark that insane travel bug neither one of us can seem to control, discussing how even places that may seem completely different can bring that same sense of bliss.
Rome is an incredible city, filled with history, filled with crazy ruins and buildings that I really appreciate. I don’t think you have to be an architecture major to really appreciate history and everything there. Costa Rica was also beautiful. But the opposite… the towns are less developed but everyone is happy. Everyone is just in nature all the time… you know. They’re polar opposites but both bring pure joy in different ways and are really special.
For an architecture major, Hannah has such a unique grasp on how she can both be inspired by creating something beautiful and appreciating the beautiful already created. Last summer, she went to The Lost Coast for one of her first full-blown, in the dirt camping trips.
We had been camping as kids, but more so in cabins camping. This was one of my first times on the ground in a sleeping bag and tent. And…. Jeff and I couldn’t close the door of the tent because we had to sleep with our heads outside looking at the stars.
One thing that Alex and I both love about hiking is that it can be made accessible everyone. Whether you have the athleticism and resources to be able to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro or you have a local 2 mile loop that brings you joy, the outdoors simply bring peace. On a trip to Kauai as a kid, Hannah was brought on a hike along the Na Pali Coast. While it was incredibly difficult for her as a young kid with short legs, the lessons she was able to share with us were profoundly inspiring.
I would say… just try it. What’s the harm in going half a mile and turning back? And you know.. If you go half a mile then you realize you can go another half mile.
This was her piece of advice for anyone who automatically counts themselves out because something seems too difficult or beyond their skill level. We dove in deeper to her passion for architecture and her journey so far at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo as an architecture major.
I really wanted to drop out, but I made it through the next quarter, which was also hard but got a little better, and this last year which I totally came into my own. Of course the projects were harder and more intense but it was so much easier for me to get into it, to enjoy my work, and to be okay with being alone and apart from where I grew up.
Fighting through adversity was nothing new for Hannah. As both a high school varsity water polo and basketball player, she used her experiences of pushing through athletic difficulties to propel herself through a period where many other students dropped out.
I reminded myself that it’s really hard, it’s really hard to motivate yourself and keep going when something hurts, but you just get a high from it. Going back to the gym and feeling the sweat and feeling the pain that I did in high school playing sports.. It feels familiar, it feels good, and it made me more confident.
Alex and I were both in tears when Hannah donated $1,000 to our project. The amount of support and belief she has given to us has helped us fight through periods of doubt and nerves gearing up to our road trip beginning. Small Towns to Summits meant something to her because she has a deep understanding of the necessity of community support, especially when whacking your way through the less beaten path.
It’s inspiring to me just because… I enjoy studying architecture, but it’s hard. I left my boyfriend, I left my family, I left the town that I love… it’s hard to defer from the path that you think is right to do the one that you think is best for you.
The process of intentionally veering your life into an unknown and uncertain direction is intimidating. The creation of Small Towns to Summits needed both our personal leaps of faith into this road trip and the support from our community. Hannah was our very first contributor, and having the opportunity to sit down with her gave us an even deeper appreciation for this community support we have received.
In the last couple of months, Hannah has started to hand craft jewelry from wood! Combining her architectural skill with artistic creativity, she turned our logo for Small Towns to Summits into necklaces and earrings. If you want to take a look at her limited edition designs, check out our “shop” section on the site!
Even though we’ve already hit the road – it’s never too late to contribute! If you’re interested in becoming a mountaineer like Hannah or any other level contributor check out all the details here!
As always, be on the lookout for future blogs and vlogs from both pre-trip events and our first experiences out on the road!