Guest Post: Sunnie Lovelace on Being an Adventurous Indoorsperson and an Upcoming Trip with Big City Mountaineers

Today's guest blogger, a self-described bookworm with
a passion for rock climbing! (Photo courtesy of Sunnie Lovelace.)
For some of us, climbing a vertical wall, bombing down a hill on a mountain bike, or charging whitewater aren't experiences or passions we expected to have. And yet, somehow, they work their way into our lives. 

When Sunnie Lovelace discovered rock climbing, it opened a new world filled with challenges and opportunities to grow. Now, that world includes training for a week in Wyoming's Wind River Range as part of a program to raise funds for Big City Mountaineers in partnership with Climbing Magazine. Big City Mountaineers is a cause close to my heart, and I'm excited to share more about Sunnie and her relationship with climbing. She's not your typical climber, but her story might ring true with other unlikely outdoorspeople out there.

I want to start with a confession: I am not, nor have I ever been, an "outdoorsy" person. I am an art lover, a theater-goer, and a confirmed bookworm. I knit when it's cold out, garden when it's warm out, and I'm a Librarian with a Master's degree in Information and  Library Science. I grew up in rural Massachusetts, but while the rest of my family eventually moved out to the country - my parents moved to a house on a dirt road in Maine while I was in college and my sister's family currently lives next to a cow farm in New Hampshire - I keep moving closer and closer to the city. My sister and I joke that she's the proverbial country mouse and I'm most definitely the city mouse.

I do have many fond memories of nature walks and days in the woods as a child, but I was never very good at team sports, nor competitive enough to excel at individual sports, and so I came to think of myself as un-athletic. I took an eight week exercise course to fulfill a requirement in college and when I got nothing out of it, I gave up on physical activity altogether.

(Photo courtesy of Sunnie Lovelace.)
So how did I end up signing up for a climb in support of Big City Mountaineers as a self-proclaimed non-athlete and non-outdoorsperson? What ended up injecting adventure into my distinctively "indoor" life was an internship right before my senior year of college. My job, working on turning an old apartment building into a safe place for local kids to spend time Alplaus, New York,  had nothing to with the outdoors.  But all of the interns went on a team building trip during our first week, and that's when I was introduced to rock climbing.

It was at least five years before I found time to do it again, thanks in large part to working full-time and going to grad school, but I never forgot that first climb. My desire to give it another go never faded. It was the only pursuit I'd found that I not only didn't excel at, but couldn't wait to do again and again.

The same summer rock climbing and I met, we took the kids we worked with out for a little caving trip. Someone who lived locally knew of this great place out in the woods where we lowered ourselves into what looked for all the world like a tiny slit in the ground, then we crawled through the mud, with a tiny little ravine in between our knees, until we got to a large cavern with water up to our shins and after just a little more shimmying we walked right out of a giant opening in the side of a hill. It was an adventure, to say the very least.

(Photo courtesy of Sunnie Lovelace.)
One girl hyper ventilated, a bat brushed by my ear (a sensation that haunts me to this day), and overall it's something I never want to do again. Yet I still look back on it fondly. Why? Because it's something I thought I would never do, but I did it and that's a really magical feeling. I'd imagine most of us who play outdoors and take risks we never thought we'd take feel the same way. Have you ever experienced that? Thinking back on a memory of something you accomplished with a certain amount of awe and disbelief?

As a person who's not particularly outdoorsy, living a city lifestyle with fairly pedestrian pursuits like
good sushi and fancy wine bars, I need those adventurous experience all the more. It's given me special moments to look back on and the secret knowledge that I'm capable of more than I'm given credit for, than I give myself credit for. I'm smile every time I sit at my desk and write because I know that someday I'll be climbing up the side of a cliff again, looking out over the tree line, and loving every minute of it.

Whether you consider yourself outdoorsy or not, the sentiment is still the same - it's so important to challenge ourselves with new experiences. And lucky for all of us, in most parts of the country, we've got months of good weather ahead of us. So go out and do something out of character this summer. Climb a wall, run a 5k, or read a novel you think is way over your head. Be a multi-dimensional person and refuse to be summed up by one or two words or even one half of your brain. Be bold, be brave, be a nerd, but whatever you do - be more than one thing!

Sunnie was chosen to participate in a special charity project sponsored by Climbing Magazine that combines two of her passions - rock climbing and making a difference in the lives of teens. In August she'll join Climbing Magazine editor Shannon Davis, Jackson Hole mountain guides, and 10-12 other magazine readers for a week of rock climbing in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. It’s the trip of a lifetime, but more importantly it’s a chance to give back. Click here to learn more about Big City Mountaineers, and click here to support Sunnie and Climb for a Cause!