The concept of a Misogi (see loose definition above) was brought to me by my very good but crazy friend Jeff Cayley via the book The Comfort Crisis. We had an overnight hike scheduled on the calendar months in advance, and a couple of days before we were set to launch, I got a text from Jeff asking me to choose between two options.
(1) “a fun little challenge that involved taking time to enjoy the scenery and setting up a cool camp where we could relax,”
(2) “a more ridiculous physical and mental challenge and a canyoneering route where we’ll be wet, cold, miserable, and likely have to turn back and make several very risky climbs?”
My immediate response was I’m in for option 2, but the “risky climbs” make me a bit nervous, considering I have a wife and two kids. I’ve known Jeff for ~10+ years, so I know how calculated he is with his planning and research, and after giving me some critical safety ground rules, I felt comfortable confirming option 2.
Rule 1: map and track accurately so we don’t botch the time frame, and
Rule 2: do not climb anything whatsoever if we aren’t totally confident that we can go back down later if needed.
Jeff also assured me that he would be carrying his Garmin inReach to make safety calls if needed, and worst-case scenario, “we just won’t really sleep.”
I’m not a hard sell when it comes to adventures —> “Deal. I’m in”
I had no idea what I was getting into, especially since I didn’t even know what canyoneering was, but I was excited about the challenge he brought to the table.
A day before launch, I got another text from Jeff with the detailed itinerary. Two things stuck out to me right away:
(1) The map showed us going straight up a river tracking up the San Gabriel mountains with no known trails in sight. I didn’t understand how we would climb up a river, but I trusted Jeff (it turns out, Cayoneeering means climbing straight up a canyon, typically through a river). And,
(2) it said our “conservative moving time” was 21 hours for a 23-mile hike with 6K ft of climbing. I thought, there is no possible way we will move this slowly…. “we’re both in shape, so we’ll smoke this time.”
Then, reality kicked in —> the adventure started the following day at 9 am and seemed like it would never end as we didn’t arrive back to the car until 7 am the next morning. Stats below:
- 24 total miles of climbing/walking/crawling/swimming/rolling/scooting/bear crawling
- 22 hours of straight movement (7 hours totally in the dark with just a headlamp)
- 6K ft climbed
- 0 hours of sleep
- Wet socks for the majority of the 24 miles
- View Garmin stats HERE
- View photos and funny/embarrassing videos HERE
This journey was the most physically and mentally demanding activity I’ve ever done but was also one of the most rewarding and fun days of my life. Here are some of my key takeaways:
- Have friends that push you out of your comfort zone.
- Really pushing yourself means accepting a challenge/taking on something new where you have a 50% chance of failing. This type of challenge builds mental toughness, and there is a natural spillover effect to everyday life as you develop the idea that doing something hard/different is good for me.
- Challenging your body, whether by moving for 22 straight hours or taking a 1-hour intense workout class, is so important so you can appreciate and be aware of how strong the human body is.
- Being in nature is so important. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t check my phone for a full 24 hours, and it was incredible.
- You can never eliminate risk but you can/should put in place strategies and “rules” to reduce it.
Thank you, Jeff! I look forward to our next Misogi adventure in 2023!
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