By Kelsey Rode, SheJumps Ambassador in Pennsylvania
About three years ago, I woke up before dawn on a cold November morning to begin the two and a half hour drive to the White Mountains...alone. Still a novice hiker, I had planned on summiting Hancock and South Hancock with a friend, but no one else was available for a day trip and I couldn’t stave off that nagging urgency to head for the hills. Fighting back all of the age-old excuses and massive uncertainties about how I would fare through a solo hike, I started my car anyways and took off towards I-91 North knowing that with each passing mile, I was committing to at least taking a chance.
Several hours later, I was walking along a snow-packed trail and enjoying my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (#1 hiking meal) more than the English language could convey. Under the weight of such silence, a sensation unlike anything I had experienced before underscored that moment: total, penetrating peace. Never had I felt that degree of contentment. I’m certain that despite my nerves, my inexperience, and everything else that had assaulted my will power earlier that morning, I trusted that the woods might reward my outburst of courage and as a matter of consequence, the Whites did reward me. Not only was I fine, but I re-emerged from the trail restless for more and dissatisfied with the limitations I had imposed upon this life.
This one effort led to other, greater adventures which have since defined my outlook on life: solo thru-hiking the Long Trail, completing a year of service, moving to two new cities, starting grad school, registering for an ultramarathon, and becoming more involved with SheJumps. Courage leads to action, which leads to confidence, which eventually leads to the same cycle on a greater scale.
I’ve come to believe that we are each more powerful than we will ever realize and that we have a responsibility to not only ourselves, but our communities to work relentlessly towards minimizing those limitations.
I believe that as strong as we are individually, we only truly rise when we do so collectively - after all, how many of us first discovered our passions through someone else’s guidance? My mom always says, “no one is an island” and she’s 100% on the mark.
This is what SheJumps is all about and why I am so proud to share this testimonial with you all as Pennsylvania’s first and only ambassador.
During this fundraising campaign, our SheJumps leaders have asked that we share our belief statements. These are mine:
I believe in the power and creativity that comes from adventure,
I believe in women and girls,
I believe in community,
And I believe that the world is relying on us to live out these beliefs.