Mountaineer vs Worrywart: The Dilemma of Being an Adventure Couple

My mom, who will most definitely read this, is something of a worrywart. Which makes sense, I had to get it from somewhere, right? Yesterday I’m chatting with her on the phone and she inserts, “I’m really worried about your trip to Mexico.” Of course I knew she was really worried about our trip to Mexico. This is the same mother who, when my purse was found in a ditch in Flagstaff (near a hospital), mobilized the entire Flagstaff police force to find me, all before nine o’clock. Really I had just peed in a ditch on the way home from a bar, a little tipsy, and dropped it there. I expect worry.

What I don’t think she realizes is the amount of control I have to reign over my own worrywart genes. Because here’s the hitch, it isn’t always easy being an adventure couple. She is worried about her daughter going and doing something dangerous and meanwhile, I am actually out there, doing the things, trusting my own body, and all the time worrying about Kyle.

I’m not worrying about Kyle because he can’t handle himself. He is fully competent and sure footed and honest with me about how he feels. I am worried about him simply because I love him so much. It’s a weird feeling. I can’t stand for bad things to happen to him. Yesterday, for example, he admitted that he had forgotten a bowl and a spoon so he had to drink his cold soup out of his little cardboard box. It felt like my heart was breaking. Or there was the time he was on crutches after his meniscus surgery and he was trying to go up some stairs while holding his lunch and he fell, loosing both his lunch and his dignity. Now that I think about it I’m not sure why so many of these examples have to do with him having pathetic lunch experiences.

When we take this all to a mountain you can imagine the implications. Naturally, occasionally, my mind gets away from me and I imagine terrible things happening to Kyle. Him tripping and slipping away from me, out of sight, into a crevasse. An avalanche burying him and I don’t know where to start looking. A storm coming up and loosing him in the white out. When these thoughts rise up I push them back down. I know they aren’t productive. Thinking those things won’t prepare me or make me a better adventure partner, they will just freak me out and distract me.

This, of course, is the paradox of adventuring with your loved one. There is no one you would rather do it with, but by doing it with them they are in harms way. In the end that is what it means to be an adventure couple. I know my mom will never stop worrying, and I know that so long as I go on adventures, neither will I. I tell myself what I tell her: the most dangerous thing any of us does on any given day is get in a car. That usually makes me feel better.

We leave tomorrow for Mexico to climb Pico de Orizaba, so expect a lull in posts for the next week. I’ll be saving stories for when we return.

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

21 thoughts on “Mountaineer vs Worrywart: The Dilemma of Being an Adventure Couple

  1. I can totally relate to this – I travel with a friend and we have the tendency to go on separate hikes at times. One time I lost him – for 2 hours at the Grand Canyon. I think I lost 10 yrs of my life. Since you probably go on adventures way more than I do I could understand where you are coming from…

  2. wow! exciting! you really are brave! that is really awesome you get to take the time to travel and adventure! enjoy every minute!! thank you for your post and i look forward for more!!

  3. Love your posts, have a couple of questions for you….Did you use a ground cloth for your duplex? Would you recommend using one? How do you do your blog on trail? And finally, how do you guys get so much time off for these adventures? I’m jealous!! Keep up the great work!

    1. Hey! To start with we didn’t use a ground cloth for the duplex or for our hexamid on the AT. Zpacks uses a thicker cuben fiber for the bathtub of the tent. You do want to sweep your campsite before setting up for sharp objects like rocks and sticks. And carry a patch kit (cuben fiber tape works great, Zpacks sells it)! Second, when we are hiking we carry an iPad and a keyboard. We have a camera and the ability to upload pictures onto the iPad. WordPress has a pretty good mobile ap so you can use it on the iPad. I would take notes about everything that happened every day and then write my posts in town. Lastly, for our big adventures we have had to quit our jobs. For our shorter ones we take time off from work, often unpaid. We prioritize travel and outdoor adventure in our budget. And we make sacrifices and sometimes stupid decisions in order to spend time outside, but it’s what keeps us happy. If you really want it you can make it happen.

  4. Yes, yes, yes! This is so me. Our first time back-country camping 1) I didn’t explain the full plan to my mom. I told her where we were going, that we were camping, and that the cell reception was poor, so I’d call her on the day we were expected to check out. (The Park Rangers knew approximately where we would be). 2) I barely slept. I had read some signs about the dangers of bears. And I started to worry about S and I being attacked. And worry. And every little sound set me off (even though we’d done our research on avoiding situations such as that). I was exhausted for the tougher part of our hike the next day. You’re right, worry is often unproductive, but can also keep you safe/caution. People like us need to find that balance.

  5. When I started climbing without my ex husband I had such a sense of relief. I only had myself to worry about! I actually enjoyed it more. Not that I recommend this (he became an ex for important reasons) but as a stage 5 worry wart it helped a lot! Plus he never really enjoyed it. He much preferred the beach.

  6. Our daughter, who is getting her masters at Duke, told us last year she was going to northern Iraq for 3 months working for on a refugee project (she is back and safe). I would have been delighted if she told us she was going mountain climbing in Mexico. You never don’t worry.

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