Before and After

I don’t really want to write about it. I started a few times over the past week and wrote every detail before deleting it all. It’s not that I don’t want to think about the journey into the wilderness. Jaime and I have talked a fair amount about it, recalling moments of levity, moments of intensity, moments of teamwork and togetherness, moments when each of us took the lead. Those memories have already solidified a place in my brain.

It’s the rest that I don’t want to think about.

Half a day before we got into service, I knew what was going down. I know my sister well enough to know she would have been nervous. I knew that she’d deduce that I was out for a run. I knew she’d figure out Jaime was out there with me. I figured I had until 6p until she actively tried to find me. I knew if we didn’t get back into service that night, she would really worry. I just hoped she held off for a little bit because I knew we weren’t going to meet those deadlines as we safely ventured back to our cars.

The whole way down that morning, I drove with a sense of purpose. I asked Jaime to pull over when his phone had service so I could call my sister. When we finally were in service and I did, I could feel exactly how much pain she’d experienced. I called my parents and cried with them. Jaime called his family. Jaime got a call from Marcus. We came across hundreds of notifications on our social pages and messengers. I posted to my Facebook.

We had planned to get breakfast when we got into town. We hadn’t eaten much over the past day. But after all those messages and the realization of how much of a commotion we caused, there was no time for it. Nothing we felt actually mattered at this point. I took a handful of Jaime’s remaining potato chips and hauled it to my sister’s.

I walked into her house looking as though I’d rolled around in a rose bush and continued straight into her arms, repeating six words: “I love you, I’m so sorry.” I think it was 10am when I got there but everything felt dark. Maybe that was just me; the world I was seeing was not the same as the one I’d looked at the day before. Catching wind of everything that went down was heavy, to say the least.

Apart from trying to heal scratches and poison oak, the past week has mostly been spent keeping an eye on my mental health. I’ve been reconciling the natural guilt I feel. I’ve been working through/attempting to ignore the public scrutiny and anger at us. Believe me, I recognize all the reasons why we made a bad call and have already implemented changes so hearing it repeated just brings me back to the darkness. The big one I’m battling right now is “How do I even continue to be Kate Olson without worrying the people who care about me or worrying that they’re worried about me?”

The last one I’ll wrestle with for a while. But at least for my trail runs, I can do the basics: a shared Google Keep note with my sister and a friend that has trail run info and a Garmin inReach Mini. The barrier is low; they’re easy and manageable and not things I’m likely to feel burdened or handcuffed by (aka actions I will stick with).

For all the people who have contacted me and confessed that they don’t always tell people where they’re running, I’m happy to be a contact for you, even if it’s just sharing the region or trailhead you’re starting at. Shared note, text, whatever format is easiest for you.

And maybe it’s something we start to talk about more as a community; not with blame or to drive guilt, but to simply make it easier to be safer.

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