I got in touch with Shelma via the contact form on the Flash Foxy website, a couple months before the first Women’s Climbing Festival. I don’t really know why I wrote that initial message. I hadn’t seriously considered going before that moment, and I can’t remember what exactly drew me to it then. In December, I happened to see another post about it on social media, and something just hit me – I knew I had to be there. I think the message I wrote to Shelma offered me behind the camera, and mentioned how desperately I needed some women in my life.
I had spent fall developing and climbing in Northern New Mexico, and it mentally wrecked me. For many reasons, some of which I’m still sorting through, I felt painfully out of place. My confidence had dwindled to a lifetime low, and for the first time, I knew what depression felt like.
Everything about this trip to Bishop was a new experience. I drove down to Bishop on my own for the first time, and picked up a person I had never met before on my way (Emily, who turned out to be amazing. Seriously as close to perfect of a friend you can get to.). I took photos for a climbing event without Spenser. I felt independent, but never alone.
And I was so happy. I felt like myself again.
At the risk of sounding cheesy – I needed the 2016 Women’s Fest, and it was there for me. Starting with the first email response from Shelma, I felt welcomed, included, and wanted. I don’t know what it all means, but I guarantee the huge positive response to the festival is because other women feel the same way.
T-minus two day until I head to Bishop to take photos for the Fest again this year, and I can’t wait.