My fingerstips are pretty raw. Showers have helped some, but the soft skin blisters from Red Rocks have rubbed away, only to expose new skin that I pawed with on Leavenworth and Peshastin rock Sunday.

Last weekend was the annual Olympic College mountaineering class field trip – where the students learn about climbing on real rock during an awesome spring day in April. Since I took the class in 2007, I’ve volunteered to be a helper on this annual trip – make sure everyone ties their knots properly, does their commands, teach a fireman belay or two, answer questions, meet new friends and learn a few things myself as well. Oh and camp in Leavenworth because I think it’s just that spectacular to look up at the clear night sky and take in a moment to breathe in that endless sky of stars.

Stella the Honda, loaded for first climb trip of 2010

But this was also a bit of a solo trip. It’d been a while since I’d done a little road trip by myself, was going to sleep in my own tent, be responsible for my own goods and not share with someone else. I was pretty proud of my car camping/cragging packing system – a box for this, a box for that and Candace’s awesome crag bag and my rope. Done!  I was looking forward to it, but there was the hesitation of the “long” drive to Leavenworth, and feeling lonely and bored. I find that in my life in general, if there is a group of folks getting together and I’m invited, I’ll forgo those chores and housetime to hang with people to avoid that “feeling lonely.” Plus, I’m just so used to doing these trips with people.

As my little Honda and I pulled onto I-90 at Issaquah on Saturday and we settled into the meandering and climbing hills to reach Snoqualmie, I started to get this very strange calm feeling. I had to think about it for a second. What is that? Then I noticed I was smiling. Like, truly happy feeling comfortable in my own skin happy smiling.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had that feeling. A very very LONG time. In fact, it was a set of brand new feelings; it felt familiar but surprisingly new. It’s sort of what I imagine what Sara feels like when talking about being outdoors. Her amazing positive energy and personality was finally rubbing off. I’m attributing those few minutes of joy to her.

We all read her blog. We know she loves the outdoors. You can really feel it from her writing. And from following her travels the past 6 months, you can tell she’s in her element and is really truly happy. I’ve been searching for that happiness for a long time and always wondered, “how do people like her do it? where do they get it? how do they get it? does it come in XXXL servings? Is it possible to order an IV?”

As the Honda and I pulled further into the Cascades, that silly grin was hard to wipe off the face, so I just settled back and enjoyed the ride.