Elizabeth Briggs

"If your dreams don’t scare you then they aren’t big enough."

-Ellen Johnson

To be honest, up until I was 30 years old, I’d never even been camping! I’ve always enjoyed nature, but I was one of those people who would talk about going somewhere and then never actually follow through with it. At the time, I was in an abusive relationship with a man suffering from alcoholism and by staying with him, I lost sight of who I was. After years of enduring his insults and trying to clean up his destructive lifestyle, I became a complete shell of a person, as worthless as he constantly said I was. When our relationship inevitably ended, I felt like my life wasn’t even worth living anymore. I spent a few months merely going through the motions of work, sleep, repeat. I stopped eating. My family had to make an emergency visit to Colorado because I was so thin I was on the road to death.

Then one day I randomly picked up Chuck Palahniuk’s book Fight Club and came across the line, “It’s only when we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” And that was it. That one sentence changed my entire life.

I had nothing, and therefore, I had everything. So I picked myself up off the couch and just started saying yes to anything that came my way. I adopted my dog Loki and soon after a few acquaintances invited me to climb my first fourteener. I remember thinking during that hike that this was the most exhausting thing I’d ever done. But eventually I reached that summit and witnessed the most awe-inspiring view of my entire life – rocky, snow-covered peaks surrounding me in every direction for as far as I could see. In that moment, looking at the vastness of the mountains and space, I felt incredibly tiny and I realized that the world is so much bigger than me and my seemingly huge problems. It really put a lot of things in perspective, and for the first time in my life I discovered what it felt like to be free. After that I started climbing every mountain I could get my hands – or feet – on.  With each adventure my confidence grew more and more, until being outside in the mountains or anywhere else became my home. It’s the place I feel most at peace. These days I use climbing as both a way to challenge myself physically and mentally, but it’s also a time to process my thoughts and compartmentalize anything I might need to sort out. The simplicity of nature where we don’t need fancy cars, huge homes, or even other people is such an amazing thing, I think. We can just be out there breathing in the quiet air, and be happy in the most organic way there is. How incredible!

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