Climbed a whole ass waterfall
Took a hike
Went into the nature
In honor of my favorite person's *redacted number* birthday, we went hiking at his favorite local spot that's very much off the beaten path. It was my first time ever seeing this place, and experiencing the challenges it afforded, but Aaron did a really good job of helping me prepare for them.

As we walked along, he told me stories of his visits past and all the ways time had changed the natural world around us - as it is wont to do. His stories are always my favorites to listen to, and better understanding his love for this space was a privilege, though knowing him it is not hard to see why he holds such affection for it.

At a point, we came to a tall waterfall and I was certain - despite his history and certainty otherwise - that it was not climbable. We approached the base of the slippery waterfall, me feeling shorter than ever before, and I watched him deftly climb halfway up to a more stable landing. Then I took a giant breath and grabbed ahold of the jutting rocks, pulled myself up, shoved my Downshifter 9s into crevices that felt far too small to use as footholds - I did all of this with great focus, and little hesitation.

When I was near the point where Aaron waited, the rocks became more slippery. I was sure I'd fall into the pool below if I reached across the threshold, and hesitated for the first time. But Aaron was there, with his hand outstretched, and even though he felt too far away I located the spaces I wanted my feet to land, and took the leap with his help. After that, getting to the top was easier, but I think my heart is still racing over a week later.

Three years ago, when I first moved back to this city, maybe even as close as one year ago, I would have turned around at the base. Or maybe I would have watched Aaron ascend in the graceful way he does and gotten to the same point that made me hesitate, and then I more likely would have thrown myself into the cold water- fearing failing and falling more than I believed I would make it across, and then to the top. I never would have returned, and I would never have seen the trail's end.

But, as is our seemingly usual serendipity, we went on this day, I went as this person, with the person who continues to encourage me to grow through all of my fears {and pouting} to be stronger, and braver than I ever knew I could be. I so look forward to scaling it together again. 

{Image Description, Left Photo: Monique is standing behind Aaron, looking at the camera a sort of slightly terrified, maybe too excited, possibly overcaffeinated look on her face. Aaron's face is partly obscured, but he is smiling, and wearing a bright pink bandana. They are standing in a gorge, water flowing around them, with rocks and foliage surrounding. 

Right Photo: Monique stands at the base of the tall waterfall, she is looking to the side at the rocks beside her, where her hand is placed, touching light flowing water. Behind her is a rushing waterfall, which flows into a pool below it.}