writewander.com | The Madness is Contagious
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The Madness is Contagious

A few weeks ago, I was approached by outdoor retailer, Moosejaw and asked if I might be willing to join their #mymaddness campaign and talk about some of the crazy, “madnessy” things that inspire me in my life.  I’m always excited for an opportunity to share my love of outdoor adventures with others, but considering Moosejaw is just as mad about the outdoors as I am, is based out of my old hometown of Detroit, and sports my favorite animal as their mascot, I was even more excited to collaborate! 

As I was well stocked up on technical outdoor gear, and being a perpetually cold person, for my part in the campaign, I decided to select some cozy items for keeping warm on chilly nights in the mountains.  I snagged a beanie, sweatshirt, and outdoor blanket. 

Just returning from a three month climbing trip to Europe, I planned to first put my new gear to use with a very small reunion weekend in the Eastern Sierras.  My two best girl friends, Vanessa and Tamar, would be joining me for some climbing, camping, and other outdoor shenanigans. But what I soon learned, was that madness is contagious, and small wasn’t going to be part of the plan…

About to be some madness up in here!

On a Thursday night, Vanessa and I left Los Angeles, heading North to the Alabama Hills, a popular climbing destination in the Eastern Sierras. Tamar would be joining us late the next day after work. Along the way however, an IG story I posted, prompted my friend Adam to spontaneously drive down from Sacramento and join us for the weekend as well! Three were becoming four. 

The Eastern Sierras are known as one of California’s premier night sky viewing areas, so of course, I had to spend some time that night taking pictures of the stars. I’m just getting into night sky photography, so it was really nice to have my new fuzzy blanket to wrap up in while I fiddled with my camera for hours in the brisk desert air.  After finally snagging a few nice shots though, it was time to get some sleep before an early morning climbing session.

The next morning, Vanessa, Adam, and I went to climb the iconic Shark’s Fin, a beautiful fin shaped rock nestled in the shadow of Mt. Whitney.  With such a stunning backdrop, the Shark’s Fin is one of these places that just inspires you to be a little crazy, a little daring, and I couldn’t help but let lose my super hero dreams and try to take flight over the mountains. My new beanie provided the perfect bright and cozy accessory for this early morning climbing and craziness, quickly catching the attention of two other climbers, who after coming over to chat, soon decided to join my friends and I for the weekend! 

Four would become six. 

Moonlight and Milky Way over the Alabama Hills!
Super hero stylin... Imaginary cape flying high on the Shark's Fin!

After wrapping up at the Shark’s Fin, our growing crew headed further North to the Mammoth Lakes area, where I had been wanting to pursue one of my new favorite activities, cold, wild swimming!  I had been experiencing some challenges in life recently, and amidst these sorts of complicated, trying times, I’ve found there’s nothing quite like freezing cold water to give you some clarity and remember to live in the moment!    

Prior to the trip, I had asked around to some of my local Mammoth friends and been told that Heart Lake should be our destination for  a beautiful, secluded alpine lake. From the Coldwater Campground day parking area, it’s a gentle one mile hike to Heart Lake, and as promised by our local intel, the hike provided stunning views of Mammoth mountain and the Minarets. Upon arriving at the lake, crystal clear water, and not another soul in site also made it the perfect location to shed some layers and jump in! Knowing there was a warm blanket, a fuzzy sweatshirt, and a thick beanie waiting on the other side of freezing cold, was also some great encouragement! 

And so we went for it, spending a good hour wading, swimming,  jumping off logs, heading back to shore thinking we were too cold, only to change our minds and jump right back in the water.  It was only sunset and a burgeoning wind that finally convinced the crew to pack up and head back to Mammoth for dinner and camping. 

Heart Lake!
Contemplating jumping in...
So cold...but so good!
Wild swimming is the best!

Back in phone service on the drive down to Mammoth, I received a text from Tamar, saying she was en route and bringing along another friend of her’s who wanted to climb with us.  A surprise text from my friend Aaron was also waiting for me, asking if it was okay for him and one of his friends to come up and join us as well?  The more the merrier I always think, and so six would become nine!  

By the next morning however, nine had turned into twelve, when two local friends changed plans to join us, and another friend, who was in town to hike Mt Whitney, detoured over to climb with us as well!  It was such an incredible show of friendship! Over the course of two days, my tiny little reunion had become a full-on party, and I felt so honored to be welcomed home by so many friends, old and new. The twelve of us would spend the next two days climbing, camping, stargazing, and frolicking through meadows around Clark Canyon, which is a great sport climbing crag a few miles outside of Mammoth.  

It was definitely a weekend to be remembered, and looking back, I still find it amazing how sharing just a little bit of adventure and the spirit of #mymadness, inspired so many others to come along for the ride!  My friends and I all had a fantastic time, and I was so thankful to have them by my side! 

The whole motley crew!

Thank you to Moosejaw for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

 

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