Something Bigger Than Us in Adventure and Exploration

Featured Explorer: Sara Waters

Upper Colorado River, Near Radium, Colorado

This new Aspen & Pine series will feature the women adventurers who inspire us and reflect our shared passion for exploring the natural world. We’ll discover what motivates them to get outside and stay outside in five simple questions.

Sara Waters

Age: 38
Location: Castle Rock, CO
Day Job: Owner / Psychotherapist / EMDR & IFS Therapist at Red Rocks Counseling

Outdoor Adventure Favorite: Camping and Hiking

Other Activities: Snowboarding, Paddle Boarding, Cycling, Running, White-water rafting

1) Have you always been into outdoor adventures?

No, I grew up in Topeka, Kansas where there is very little opportunity for exploration and adventure. On top of that, there were some aspects of my childhood that were difficult and complicated. Because of these circumstances, I learned to keep my head down and stay under the radar. I was too timid to explore. I was in middle school the first time I saw mountains. I remember driving into Colorado [with a youth group]and someone pointed out the mountains. I was looking at the horizon and the only thing I could register was clouds that were shaped interestingly. It didn’t register that they were mountains, I had never seen them before. Then we got closer and you could see them more defined. I remember being overcome with emotion. I think it was a sense of something so much bigger than anything I had ever seen. That was very overwhelming for me emotionally, and that was the first time I ever noticed this sense of adventure, of wanting to explore more. It was profound.

Humboldt Peak Summit, Sangre de Cristo Range, Colorado

2) What’s your favorite piece of gear or clothing?

Our Camelbaks are always on us. That’s probably our most used piece of equipment and it doesn’t matter whether we are hiking or snowboarding — we’ve always got a Camelbaks. Then there’s my hiking pants. Once I find a pair of hiking pants that I love, they’re pretty much the only pants that I’m going to wear adventuring. I’ve had the same pair of hiking pants for five years now. They are amazing. I won’t go up into the mountains in the summer time without them.

Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado

3) How has your enjoyment of the outdoors and adventure shaped your life, job, or family?

It has been a huge component of my spirituality. For many years, I thought that spirituality equated to religion and now I couldn’t think more differently. Some people call it God, or the Universe, or an Inner Guide. I believe we all experience spiritual connection in very unique and personal ways. For me, more often than not, I feel that connection when I’m out in nature. For example, when I’m snowboarding, and the snow is falling, and everything is silent, and I can see mountain peak after mountain peak on the horizon, that is where I feel spiritually connected.

That spirituality then flows over into how I parent, how I do marriage, and the way that I do my job. With our family, we’ve made it a huge priority to give our kids access, encouragement, and empowerment in the outdoors. Marriage wise, it has been a connecting thing for my husband and me. Whether it is golfing, walking the dog, hiking, fishing, snowboarding, camping — there is something special about feeling completely comfortable and synchronized together in the silence. Like when you are hiking, even if you are in silence you are still very much connected in that experience of what’s happening around you and what you are seeing.

Mt. Elbert, Colorado

4) What trips are on your bucket list?

We are so busy exploring Colorado that we haven’t been to many places outside of the state, however we are hoping to camp and hike around the Grand Canyon this September. We did spend a couple of weeks backpacking around Thailand, which gave us the itch for overseas adventuring. I’d love to go to New Zealand. I’d love to hike Machu Picchu. There is no place that you could show me, if there are outdoor opportunities, that I wouldn’t want to go.

Keystone Resort, Colorado

5) What lessons have you learned from an outdoor and adventurous lifestyle?

It has affirmed for me what I already knew growing up, we were not created to live in a box. I, personally, was not created to live small. I have an undeniable craving to experience the bigger picture. I believe we were create to use this life to find out what the bigger picture. I just can’t deny that there seems to be something bigger than us. Adventure and exploration outdoors is such a great reminder of that. There is nothing else that I have personally experienced that will make you feel so small in an authentic, appropriate, and humbling way — holy shit, there is something way bigger at play here. I think it’s good to be reminded how small we are and how big nature is. I can get so caught up in my own life, especially owning a business, with four kids, a dog, and all the daily life things. It’s really easy to get stuck in a routine, living for the next thing — the next vacation, the next paycheck, or the next sports season for the kids. Whatever that might be, I forget the bigger picture sometimes. It reorients me. Especially when I get outside and up in elevation, I can see just how far the horizon really goes. Those things reorient and ground me in what I believe is the bigger purpose of this life. That is, continually seeking and being mindful of the experience of our journey of this life, and meanwhile to see as much of this beautiful Earth as I can. I remind myself every day to slow down and look around. There is a never-ending abundance to what we can see and experience in this lifetime.

Something Bigger Than Us in Adventure and Exploration was originally published in Aspen & Pine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.