Jessi - Clawing My Way Up A Cinder Cone In Utah

Hello! Who are you and where are your hiking roots?

Hello there! I’m Jessi, avid adventurer and lover of all things outdoors. I’m pretty sure I was born with a love for nature and outdoor exploring.

I was born in a very small town in the middle of nowhere in Utah. My entire childhood is packed full of memories that all include camping, hiking, traveling to state and national parks, and sledding/snowboarding down some back-country mountains every winter.

I’ve always been the type of person that has a hard time staying indoors. I honestly believe that getting outside as much as possible is the key to staying sane in this crazy world.

There’s something about fresh air, solitude, and pushing myself to my ultimate limits that truly makes me feel alive.

Fun fact about myself that most people don’t know: I’m scared of heights. You’d never guess it, I know. But every time I climb a steep mountain cliff or sandstone ledge, my heart races in a beat of anxiety and panic. But when I get to the top and accomplish something hard, I feel like I’ve officially conquered the world. That feeling is what keeps me addicted to hiking and the outdoors.

Nature is truly the best therapy on the planet and it also happens to be free.99.

What’s your Story From The Mountain?

My story from the mountain actually includes a volcano. Well, technically a cinder cone, if I’m being precise.

Southern Utah has many dormant or deceased volcanos. Most of our landscape consists of lava rock and lava tubes from said volcanoes. One cinder cone in particular, known to some as “The Santa Clara Cinder Cone” near Diamond Valley, Utah, caught my eye, so naturally, I had to climb it.

Due to the desert heat, we started hiking at 4:30 A.M. We first followed the signs to the trailhead but thought we were going the wrong way, so we turned around and went in the opposite direction. 

The opposite direction had us climbing straight up the cinder cone. And when I say straight up, I mean that at one point I could no longer stand vertically or I would have fallen backwards. 

I started to get more and more scared as we reached the halfway point. I didn’t think I could go back up OR go back down. I sat down in the middle of the cinder cone side, and I lost it. Meaning, I froze. I was shaking so hard I could barely stand, and I started crying. Lame, I know. 

There’s something about fresh air, solitude, and pushing myself to my ultimate limits that truly makes me feel alive.

My husband then says, “You HAVE to go the rest of the way up. If you go back down, you’ll fall, and you won’t stop until you hit the bottom.” He also said he would call search and rescue to come get me, if I couldn’t go any further on my own. I had an instant image of my face being plastered all over the local news, all because I froze up. Talk about motivation. 

Listen, my husband isn’t a bully, he’s a realist. And the options he gave me were literally all I had. Fall down a volcano, get rescued, or finish what I started. So, I sat there for another minute then I sprung up and literally clawed my way to the top of the cinder cone.

I say clawed in the literal sense of the word. This cinder cone consists of loose gravel and tiny particles of lava rock. There is no where to grab, nothing to latch on to.

The entire time, in my head, I kept telling myself over and over, “YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. YOU CAN DO THIS.” And, I will tell you this - reaching the top and hitting flat ground was a feeling I can’t even put into words. I’ve never wanted to kiss the ground so much in my entire life. That feeling of accomplishing something I didn’t think I could do, of not giving up, and seeing that breath-taking view at the top - nothing beats it.

You can see the killer drone footage of me running along the top of this volcano, here! You won’t want to miss this one!

Through hiking/climbing, have you learned anything about yourself or nature you’d like to pass on to others?

One of my main goals in life is to encourage others to get outside as much as possible and enjoy this beautiful world God created.

There’s so much to see and experience when you find yourself in the mountains - with the towering aspens, the birds chirping, and the fresh smell of pine in the air. Or, when you hike for miles and come around a corner to see a cascading waterfall flowing over colorful sandstone formations.

I can’t even tell you how many times I have felt so overwhelmed by a view that it leads me to tears. In those moments, I sit in that place, in silence, living in the moment, and thanking god for creating something so stunning, while giving me a body that is healthy enough to allow me to see it.

One of my main goals in life is to encourage others to get outside as much as possible and enjoy this beautiful world God created.

Every mountain I climb, every struggle I face, I know that I can do hard things, and that in the end, the views are more than worth it. Life and hiking are so similar. When I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place (both literally and metaphorically) I remind myself that I’ve been through worse, and guess what? I’m just fine. Thanks, nature!

What’s your favorite item in your pack?

Like most, every outdoor adventure involves packing in camera equipment. (Photos or it didn’t happen!) This equipment generally includes my drone (DJI Mavik Pro 2), my DSLR (Canon 80D), my GoPro, and my cellphone (iPhone 11 Pro). 

So how in the world do I pack all of that on a hike? Easily, actually. Thanks to the most amazing camera backpack EVER. The Endurax Shell P01 Extra Large Camera Backpack has room and compartments to literally pack everything you need.

Want to see my full review video on this backpack prior to buying? You can check out the video, here!

Do you have any advice for other hikers who are just starting out?

Hiking doesn’t have to be hard. Yes, you read that right. All you have to do is start somewhere. 

Every state, national, and local park has easy trails, moderate trails, and hard trails. Just get out and go. Do a 5-minute stroll, then do a 5-minute hike, just do it. Get outside. I promise you that you won’t regret it. 

What if you find yourself sore after? That’s normal. It means you accomplished something hard and you used muscles you didn’t even know you had - which is a good thing! Getting out to explore is not only good for your heart, but also your mind, too.

So take a long, hot, epsom salt bath, rest up, and do it again. 

Hiker hack: To avoid getting dehydrated, especially if you’re hiking in the hot desert like me, I recommend drinking pickle juice! That’s right! You can actually buy it in pre-packaged packets that you put right in your backpack. 

Fun fact: Pickle Juice is known to stop and prevent muscle cramps, while also replenishing key minerals and electrolytes to keep you hydrated! You can find the kind I buy and use here! 

What have been the most influential hiking books, podcasts, or people?

Oh man, if you have not seen the Netflix documentary, “Free Solo”, go watch it now. Hold up, I mean...after you finish reading this.

Professional rock climber Alex Honnold is a total and complete beast of a human. He is fearless. He climbs straight up some of the biggest mountains in the WORLD with ZERO climbing equipment.

Even after you see it with your own eyes, you won’t believe there is a human on this planet like him. And while I will never, ever have the guts to even attempt anything remotely close to that, I love watching him and pretending I’m him while I’m climbing.

Where’s your next adventure?

Domestically, I am currently working on planning a road trip to Sedona!

I am honored to be on the board for a local nonprofit, “Global Education Philanthropists”. We strategically fight human trafficking both domestically and globally through education. Via Expedition Global, we do humanitarian aid trips all over the world. 

On these trips, we visit villages, provide aid, and also get to experience each location we visit. I am in charge of booking volunteers for these trips and I will be attending every trip we have planned for 2020! So far this year, we have the following places planned: Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Costa Rica, and Ireland. First up is Belize!

Have you ever done a humanitarian trip? Do you want to? Of course you do. To see all the info about our fight against human trafficking, how you can help, and to book your spot on our next life-changing trip, click here!

Where can others learn more about you?

Do you love seeing adventures? Do you laugh at puns? I’m your girl. Pun-queen, hiking freak, traveler, and all-around quirky, with a mix of killer outdoor photos! Come follow me on Instagram! Follow me here! 

I have met so many amazing people from all over the globe on social media. I absolutely LOVE getting to know all of my followers. Come follow me!

Want to see all my crazy experiences in real-time via 4K drone video? Why yes, yes you do. Follow me on YouTube here!

On my facebook page, I love to include lots of photos from all of my adventures, along with all of my blog posts and shares! Follow me on Facebook here! 

Want to get a glimpse into my upcoming travels and hikes? Follow all my inspirations on Pinterest! You can find me on Pinterest here!

You can also catch me on the trails, experiencing one of the many epic Southern Utah hikes!

See you there!
The Rambling Raccoon
*Terra Mano Note: Any affiliate links present in the article support the interviewee, not Terra Mano

Want to share your Story From The Mountain?

Hey, I'm Greg Kamradt, the founder of Terra Mano.

We interview awesome hikers/mountaineers/climbers/photographers and share the stories behind their ambition. By sharing these stories, we want to help others become inspired to reach their goals.

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