I don't usually post Women Who Love posts back to back Mondays, but I missed a post while I was on vacation.
And so! Today, y'all get to meet Rachel! I had so much fun photographing her for this series and absolutely love how her photographs turned out. Here she is!
Name: Rachel Hatfield
Love: Hiking and Biking
How long have you been hiking? Biking?
I have been biking (for leisure, on things like banana seat bikes) since my oldest sister taught me how at age nine. I have been road biking more seriously for about six months now. I have been hiking ever since my dad took me on my first big trip when I was thirteen.
Are hiking and biking something you do alone or is it something you do with others?
Biking is something I do with my fiance (soon to be husband!), Kyle. He always loved biking and we actually used to take rides around the town when we were teenagers and still pretending we wouldn't grow up and get married some day.
My first big hiking trip was something my sisters and I all went on individually with my Dad when we turned 13. It was our family right of passage: conquering nature and being alone with your thoughts. My dad considered it a way to transition into getting to know us as young adults, I think. Since then, I've gone several summers over the years, sometimes with my Dad and sometimes with my Mom.
How has hiking and biking strengthened your relationships with others?
Biking definitely strengthens my relationship with Kyle. We learn to listen to each other and communicate well, since we live in the city where biking is no joke as people don't care for you at all. It is also a way for us to spend time together, get some exercise and feel exhilarated when we meet our goals. I think it also strengthens my relationship with myself. It is an active part of my own project I started this year of loving myself daily, rather than constantly berating myself and critiquing my physical appearance.
My time spent on hiking trips have been some of my favorite memories and I desperately miss the mountains and the company any summer I don't get to go. Those trips were when I got to learn about my dad as a person and not just as a father. I learned his history and his mistakes and he ultimately became so much more fragile and thoughtful and human to me. I think that was an important part of the process of a girl changing the relationship with her father. I would also say that this built the foundation of a great relationship today, with someone who I honestly enjoy hanging out with but can still come to for advice and wisdom.
What has hiking and biking taught you about the world around you?
I think biking has taught me that there is always more community than you think if you go out and look for it. The biking community is very active and passionate and I really enjoy that. They are able to create community in a bustling city, which is impressive.
Hiking is just the opposite, in a perfectly complimentary way for me. There is something about being out in the wilderness for a week, without seeing a single other human and carrying all your possessions in your pack, that makes you believe in the breadth and depth and maybe even the mystery of the world again.
How have hiking and biking made a positive impact on the rest of your life?
Biking has definitely made a positive impact on the rest of my life. In the main, biking is a great way to get involved in charity. I have never been a runner, which is the majority of what fundraising activities are centered around. Biking, however, provides a lot of those opportunities. This is the first year I will be participating in BikeMS in which I get to raise $200 to help fund Multiple Sclerosis research and outreach.
Hiking has left a mark on me forever. I always quote the line from The Lord of the Rings: "I want to see Mountains again, Gandalf," because it instantly conveys the sense that it is an experience that is breathtaking every time. For me, hiking is the perfect marriage between feeling peaceful and overwhelmed, an undervalued combination as I am pretty sure that is what it takes to handle most of life's situations.
How has it given you confidence?
Both of these activities make me believe that I can accomplish goals. I am not a dainty or graceful girl. I will never be willowy, however, these activities make me feel my height and more muscular build are an asset, even in bike shorts.
What is one of your favorite memories from hiking?
My favorite memory is probably a funny one. On my first hiking trip with my dad, we were crossing the valley to hike a peak. The valley looked like dense grass from neighboring peaks, but once we climbed down we realized it was prickly shrubs in marshy mud. We sloughed our way through it almost to the base of the mountain when my dad took one wrong step and ended up in nature's pot hole, up to his waist in mud. The fun continued for me when he had to wash off in a freezing mountain stream as well.
In one sentence, what are your feelings on hiking and biking?
Biking and hiking are what keeps me aware of my own insignificance and that feels like a humbling, inspiring relief.
Thanks so much, Rachel!
And congratulations on your upcoming wedding!
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