Samantha King - Pushing Past My “What-Ifs”

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

I’m Samantha, extreme jogger and lover of all things trails and mountains.

I started hiking as a young child. My dad would take me and I HATED it! We laugh about it now but I would cry on the trails because I was so miserable. I didn’t like any kind of exposure at all. Even the smallest drop off scared me. 

The hike I remember doing the most was Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. I now go back there from time to time and hike to the top of the falls and beyond and it always feels like home.

I was soaked and sunburned by the end but it sparked something in my heart and I decided that I would learn and I would become good at it.

Nature first really hit me about 3 years ago. I went on a couple hikes for exercise and found myself feeling a lot of joy out there on the trails and thought “I could do this regularly. Why have I not been doing this?” And I never looked back.

I began to research trails I knew about which led to me researching new ones and finding bigger challenges. My first alpine attempt was Mt. St Helens in the spring of 2017. It was an utter disaster in some ways. I really didn’t know what I was doing or have appropriate gear for the weather. I was soaked and sunburned by the end but it sparked something in my heart and I decided that I would learn and I would become good at it.

In early 2018 I was hiking 20-25 mile days but I wanted to cover more ground in a day. I began trail running basically on accident. I discovered that if I ran parts of the trails I wanted to accomplish in a day that I could cover 30, 40, and even 50 miles.

I started spending any free days I had exploring big routes that I had researched and mapped out. Up until the end of 2018 I did the majority of my adventures solo. Partly by necessity, 40 mile days are not most people’s idea of fun, but I also loved the solitude and the chance to work out the thoughts in my mind. Nature doesn’t care who you are, where you’ve been, if you laugh, or if you cry. Nature is just there, always and unconditionally.

Towards the end of 2018 I decided to “put myself out there” and look for partners to go on harder climbs with. I have been very lucky to meet some amazing humans who support me and love nature and adventuring as much as I do! I still enjoy solitude sometimes, especially when running, but sharing these amazing moments with other people is pretty special. 

What’s your Story From The Mountain?

My story from the mountain begins in late 2017.

I was hiking regularly by then and had gone up Mt. St Helens and Mt. Adams by that point. Both of those summits I had gone with friends but trying to coordinate schedules was getting tricky and I had been solo adventuring on trails for several months by that point. So, I decided to head back up Mt. St. Helens solo.

I love the early mornings and the peace and quiet moments that seeing the sunrise on a mountain brings so I opted to begin in the middle of the night. There was minimal snow at that time of year so I took the monitor ridge route from climber’s bivouac.

Starting out I was scared. There was no one else heading up and no headlamps in front of me or behind me. I made my way through the woods letting my mind wander but also being sure to keep focus on my surroundings. Once I made it to the boulders I started to feel at home.

Around 7:00 AM I reached the last push to the summit as the sun was coming up and I stopped for a few minutes to take it all in. I lucked out with no wind and a calm morning and it was just me and the mountain. I had never felt so alive and so at peace. That morning I realized what I was capable of. 

I was strong and I was brave and I could push past the mental “what-ifs”. I have been back up that mountain over a dozen times, many of them solo, and it never disappoints. It’s there like an old friend who is always there for you when you’re at your best or your worst. 

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

Through hiking, climbing and running, I learned that I am capable of much more than I’d ever thought.

In 2018, when I started running, I decided to sign up for a race. Initially I thought I would sign up for a 20 miler but then wondered if I could do more. So I signed myself up for a race in April 2018, the Peterson Ridge Rumble that was 40 miles.

That was the first race I ever ran and not something most people would attempt for their first. Several people asked my why I decided to do that and the answer was simple: I wanted to see if I could.

I had never felt so alive and so at peace. That morning I realized what I was capable of.

I researched training and prepared the best I could and when race day came, I was nervous, but I was also excited. I finished that race and realized that if I set my mind to something and prepared as much as I could that I could accomplish anything. 

What’s your favorite item in your pack?

I never leave home without my Be Free Water Filter. It’s light and so easy! You can drink straight from it or squeeze the water out into other bottles. It is absolutely one of my favorite outdoor items and I recommend it to anyone who asks about water filters. I’ve used a few other filters and nothing compares to this one. 

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

If you’re just starting out my advice is simple: don’t compare yourself to anyone else. In the age of social media it’s easy to see people doing more or “better” and it’s easy to feel like whatever you accomplish isn’t enough.

Nature doesn’t care who you are, where you’ve been, if you laugh, or if you cry. Nature is just there, always and unconditionally.

Getting out there and doing something, anything, is an accomplishment and it’s more than the average person does! Be proud of your accomplishments, even if they seem small in comparison, because every single one is worth celebrating and feeling proud. 

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

I LOVE reading. A few of my favorite books are: 

The two people who inspire me the most are my kids. They remind me that the little things that are often taken for granted, are special and beautiful. Whether it’s a cool rock or a little bug, they are the first ones to point it out. They remind me it’s ok to slow down and really take it all in.

Where’s your next adventure?

My next adventure will be doing some winter volcano climbing and spending time on my local trails. Mt. Hood and Mt. St Helens are my favorites in winter and are basically in my backyard so I’ll be spending a good amount of time on those.

I have some big spring and summer routes in the works that I have been planning. One of my routes is 100 miles and ends by summiting a volcano. It will be the hardest one yet and I can’t wait!

Where can others learn more about you?

My Instagram is @samantha.mountain.trail

I also love talking mountains, trails, and route planning so don’t hesitate to reach out to me there.

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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