On a clear Saturday, three friends and I hailed a cab to take us to “el Teleférico.” I’m not quite sure what that translates to, but our understanding was that we were headed to the base gondola of volcán Pichincha. And luckily, this isn’t one of my many stories where the cab driver has no clue what I’m asking for! That day, we were going to summit this volcano. We rode the gondola up, not nearly to the top. And we were off! We leave the gondola to follow the winding trail up and down this dirt path surrounded by fields of long grass. We know this is the easy part; we can see the real steepness, partly in clouds, but we know it’s there and that it is a lot higher up.

We take our time on the uphills and cruise down the downs. Remembering that the top of this volcano rests at just over 15,000 feet, we break, often. There just is not enough oxygen for us gringas coming from sea level. We stopped to breathe and appreciate the views. Sometimes, I didn’t stop to pause. Sometimes, I dragged myself to the top of the next little peak. Sometimes, I ran. And sometimes, we sat in the grass and laughed at our entire endeavor.

Reaching the summit had many ups and downs. We were encased in fog at points, unable to find trail markers. We scaled rocks, walked the edges of cliffs, and met local hikers promising our success. We were on an adventure. Although we couldn’t see through the fog to know exactly where we were venturing, it didn’t matter because we knew we were headed towards something. We just hoped that something would be the summit, imagining the sign to declare our feat.

That something ended up not being the summit. That something was me scaling a cliff to encounter panic at the top. That something wasn’t what we had hoped for, but it was a learning experience and a story to tell.

In reflection, I realize that every adventure has its highs and lows. And at the end of every adventure, something awaits. It’s okay to not know what that something is and it’s okay to not know the perfect way to get there. It’s okay to run up some hills and take others slowly. It’s okay to pause. So, for my adventures during the next seven months, I choose to embrace being okay with being okay on my journey to something.