No Excuse

The opening of this post may seem odd, but if you read it in its entirety, I’m fairly certain it will become clear.

I have had a great many setbacks throughout my lifetime: depression, obesity, and a rare brain disease to list a few. I am also a childhood survivor of sexual abuse. The impact of abuse is long lasting. For me, the abuse violated my understanding of and relationship with the world and created within me many trust issues.

In 2008, I attended a survivor of sexual abuse retreat at the Women’s Wilderness Institution in Boulder, Colorado. . The Institute provides an ideal environment for women to reconnect with their inherent strengths and sense of well-being. It is my belief that there is healing in nature.

Myself, along with six other women set off on a primitive camping expedition. Growing up in Florida, soft sand and beaches were my playgrounds. I had no experience camping, and I did not know that rock climbing was even an activity.

Today I came across photos from that trip. In one photo, I was so cold that I needed two sleeping bags, and I didn’t drink nearly enough water. As with life, I survived.









Weighing in at 365 pounds, the traditional equipment did not fit me appropriately. The other women assisted me in tying knots to make a safety net of sorts. Wearing a make-shift harness, I scaled my way up the side of the mountain. It took a lot of courage to reach the top, but once there I fell in love with nature and knew I had the strength to do anything.

I finally understood the old Negro spiritual, “Rough Side of the Mountain” and I felt liberated.  A year later I developed symptoms of what would be diagnosed as the rare brain disease, Pseudotumor Cerebri /Intracranial Hypertension (IH).

My journey has never been an easy one, but the years following that trip were especially difficult. Now, fifteen surgeries (eight of which were brain surgeries) later, I am reminded of the first day I fell in love with nature.
I hear a lot of, “I can’t,” “I would but,” “With my condition it’s not possible,“ or “I’m not able” when I talk about my ventures. At first, I tried to be empathic of others’ situations, and then I recall having the physical strength at 365 pounds to lift myself up a mountain.

I remember waking up the morning after one of my brain surgeries eager to go for a run (at the time I’d not run in over 15 years). I am reminded of my childhood and the courage it takes to not only trust others but trust myself.

I am doing what no one has done before, hiking the PCT with a neuromodulator. Now, when I hear a list of excuses they are just that, excuses. My motto has been “I can, I must and I will.” If I can, you have no excuse.


Up High


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Comments 6

  • Hannah Marie : Dec 11th

    “I can. I must. I will.” A great motto, and one I will be using as well, if you don’t mind. I’ll give you telepathic credit every time I use it. (: Keep up the great posts!

    • Crystal Gail Welcome : Dec 17th

      Awesomeness, Hannah Marie.

  • Maudi : Dec 12th

    Beautiful. An inspiration…

  • Sha : Dec 12th

    What an inspiration you are!!!! My sister suffers from PTC. It has tortured her for nearly 20 years. I think it’s incredible what you were doing. I was also abused for years, I still battle with my feelings from all of that. I have definitely found refuge in nature. I am a avid plus size hiker/backpacker with really bad arthritis in my spine and knees. The pain makes every step very difficult but it’s worth it and I love it. I can’t wait to read about your adventure. I am looking to hike 1000 miles of the AT in 2017.

    • Crystal Gail Welcome : Dec 17th

      Thank you for the compliment and thank you for sharing your experience. I am glad you find inspiration in my story. The AT sounds awesome. Godspeed


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