Growing up in the midwest, there wasn’t much rock to climb or any cool National Parks to explore. It wasn’t until the last four years or so that I got outdoors and finally realized what I had been missing – it was quite a bit.
Regardless of where you live, I’ve found that you can always find an adventure and engage in an experience full of joy and satisfaction as long as you have the willingness to commit. Committing to something new was an obstacle for me to overcome when I first conjured up this idea that I was more than an Indianapolis local, full time college student, and member of a family who never did anything due to lack of expenses. I had always dreamed of traveling and exploring other countries, but never did I ever take that leap of faith and commit to plans I made or a trip my friends invited me to attend – mostly because I feared what to expect and how to let go of the hard earned money for an excursion I didn’t necessarily need. My family and I couldn’t afford traveling on vacations ever, so I had little to no experience in that field which meant that I had little to no confidence in making traveling and exploring possible for me as I grew older. What’s that phrase: it isn’t in the cards? But I was different from my family: curiosity guided me and lingered on for many years until I finally committed and took a trip down to the Red River Gorge, KY in 2015.
I lived in Indiana for most of my life until 2018. I’ve lived in Ohio since then. Neither state offers picturesque scenery that makes your jaw drop, but both do offer something awfully convenient: proximity to the country’s best sport climbing destination! The Red River Gorge in Slade, Kentucky feels more like my home than any house or apartment I’ve lived in and has taught me more about myself than I thought possible. Rain or shine, cloudy or sunny, the Red has always brought a sense of belonging and comfort. The Red was the first step to my transformation of my new perspective and life style – in just four short years, my desire to be outside hiking, traveling, and rock climbing bloomed over night like a wildflower in the spring time. I was psyched and craved more after each trip.
What’s funny is my first trip down to the country’s best climbing destination consisted of zero rock climbing. It was a hiking trip. I hiked the to Natural Bridge and became one of the many thousands of people who become inspired by nature’s beauty and engulfed in my surroundings. The sight from the natural bridge made me realize that I needed more of these phenomenons in my life and that I hadn’t really been living until that moment. It was months until I went back to the Red to actually do some rock climbing. I needed to commit to that aspect of my life next. Climbing was terrifying at first!
Looking back at my first two encounters with the beauty and magnificence that has always and will forever be present in the Red, I am grateful to have leapt and committed to pursuing my seemingly impossible dream of traveling and climbing and exploring beyond what the midwest offers. My advice to all the dreamers out there: commit to your curiosity. Satisfy that inquiry and just go out and see what it’s all about, because chances are, its going to be an amazing experience.