BEEDIE LUMINARIES – One afternoon while scrolling on Instagram, we saw this post of Avie’s impossibly impressive summer activities. Aside from absolute awe from the beauty of the scenery Avie had managed to capture in her short clip, we were even more impressed by Avie’s passion and commitment for the outdoors.
Shortly after that, we found ourselves catching up over anecdotes and sweet summertime moments, and figured others should have the chance to hear Avie’s story as well. So, here it is. We’ll let Avie tell her own story from here.
AVIE WATERFALL — Hello everyone! My name is Avie Waterfall and I am a proud Beedie Luminary from the 2021 cohort. I have been privileged to grow up in the small community of Nelson, British Columbia which is located on the traditional unceded territory of the Ktunaxa, the Syilx, and the Sinixt peoples. I am currently working towards completing my Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Victoria, with my primary focus on affordable housing. For the past two years, I have worked as a Project Coordinator at the Greater Victoria Housing Society where they aim to provide affordable, secure rental homes for low to middle-income families, working singles and couples, and people with diverse abilities. The provincial housing crisis is an issue that continues to impact thousands of residents and is something that I have experienced first-hand. In the future, it is my goal to help create and manage affordable housing projects in British Columbia.
Nice to meet you, Avie! It is no doubt that you love being outdoors. Have you been up to anything fun this summer?
I was privileged to be introduced to the outdoors at a very young age and have since fallen in love with spending time in the alpine. Whether it be hiking, climbing, or backpacking, it is where I try to spend my time in the warmer months. This summer, I had the opportunity to go on a two month climbing trip where we adventured in Washington, Idaho, Alberta, British Columbia, Wyoming, and California. When I tell you that it was the best summer of my life, I would not be lying, and feel so lucky to have been able to explore this rugged terrain. Additionally, my partner and I also hiked the John Muir Trail which extends about 370 kilometers from Mount Whitney to Yosemite Valley.
Well, we want to hear more: where did your passion for the outdoors begin?
Before I could walk, my mom was taking me hiking and backpacking with her. I have been very lucky to grow up in an area surrounded by mountains and lakes and it was her who first inspired me to get outside and develop my passion for adventure. Being a single mom and witnessing how she has overcome adversity is so powerful and she has helped me develop into a resilient individual. This strength has allowed me to overcome challenges both in the backcountry and in my day-to-day life.
In my last two years of high school, I began to seriously struggle with my own self-confidence and soon developed a Binge Eating Disorder. It all started because I had created this false idea in my head that I had to maintain a certain weight to “be happy” and it began to take a significant toll on my mental health. After months of being uncomfortable in my own skin, I knew that I needed to take small steps and work towards change. As summer came and the weather became warmer, I found that hiking helped me gain confidence and find a road to recovery. Just being in the mountains and physically challenging myself was so important, especially because food once again became something that fueled my body, rather than a source of fear and guilt. After almost three years, I am feeling happier and more confident than I have in a really long time and I truly believe that it is because I get to be outside on a regular basis. I know that everyone’s journey is vastly different, however, if you are struggling with your self-confidence, I would highly recommend just getting outside and doing something that challenges you.
Thank you for being so vulnerable with us and your readers. Your perseverance and resilience are truly remarkable.
We’re starting to understand how integral these outdoor experiences have been to your personal growth. Do you have any instances you’re willing to share from this summer that have challenged you and helped you grow?
Over these past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to get into mountaineering, essentially combining my love of hiking and climbing. The most notable being our attempt to summit the Grand Teton in Wyoming. While this peak is not too technical, the weather often changes very quickly since it is above 4,000 m. The day before we were supposed to climb it, a climber slipped and died while going up the Owen Spalding route which is one of the most popular ways to ascend the Grand Teton. Just hearing about this instantly made me feel uncomfortable and less confident. Regardless, we set out at 1 a.m. to begin the four-hour approach to the base of the mountain. We arrived and racked up to begin our twelve-pitch climb to the summit, but unfortunately had to bail after pitch two because the weather began to shift. At this point, I was cold, I was frustrated, and I had intense summit fever, but it was just unsafe to continue. After discussing with my partner, Evan on the way down, we decided that we would make one more attempt two days later. I guess you could say that he had pretty severe summit fever too because that approach was no cake walk and the full day took us over 17 hours to complete. So two days later, we tried again. But this time securing an overnight permit so that we could split it up into a multi-day trip.
At 5 a.m. on the 25th of July, we were back at the base of the Grand Teton and eager to reach the summit. After about an hour of scrambling, we reached a section where we needed to take out our climbing gear, however, based on our previous attempt I am sure you can guess what happened next. Yep, you guessed it. The weather took a serious turn for the worse and the wind became unmanageable. At this point, our fingers were just too cold and we had no choice but to turn around for a second time. Both mentally and physically this was one of the most challenging things that I have ever done. While I had worked so hard and desperately wanted to make it to the top, I just had to understand that risking my life to reach the summit was not worth it. I will be back one day in the coming years and hopefully get a good weather window to reach the top.
What this experience has taught me is that you need to learn to accept failure because it forces you to learn from your mistakes and appreciate what did go well. Sometimes you are going to do things in life where you put in so much effort and still fail. This is what makes us resilient, what allows us to overcome adversity.
Thank you, Avie. You inspire all of us to challenge ourselves just that much more.
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