In June of 2015 I was diagnosed with adenomyosis, the evil, more painful cousin and alter ego of endometriosis. For six months I was experiencing bloating, debilitating menstrual cycles, and different levels of pain–shooting pain, consistent acute pain, and dull aches. I attributed the pain to my decade of mountain biking only, not stretching enough, a car accident or two or three, and other body trauma from a life lived.

But after months of sitting in meetings with sharp pain, doubling over while teaching, and stomach-grabbing during snowboard breaks, I headed off to the ob-gyn for some answers. The dumb nurse at the first place ascertained from my enlarged, hardened uterus that I had probably had ovarian cancer and should have an ultrasound ASAP. CThe ob-gyn I finally saw allayed my cancer fears and after weeks of appointments and speculation and waiting, I was put on progestin to stop the benign enlargement. I went to pelvic physical therapy for three months to strengthen my pelvic floor so I could handle the cantaloupe that my uterus had become.

Walking was difficult. Getting out of bed required problem-solving and Chinese acrobatics. There was, during June of 2015, so much crying. From pain, from the hormonal adjustment to the progestin, from a terrible break-up of a terrible relationship, and from fear, mostly, that my life of adventure was coming to an end.

I had planned, casually and a few months before June 2015, an adventure trip to Nevada, along Highway 50. Nevada is not known as the most mountainous of the contiguous lower 48, and that’s why adventuring among its mountain island oases, as John McPhee calls them in Basin and Range, is such a treat. There’s lots of there there but there is almost no one there.

Lotsa nature and chance for swimming, hiking, biking, and camping adventures and no lines and few fees and just lots of panoramas.

A few days before takeoff, I somberly told my adventure partner: “I can barely walk. I don’t know if I can go to Nevada.” He responded cheerfully, “That’s ok. We’ll just take it easy.” Easy for me meant loading up on Tylenol and codeine for the twelve-hour drive and doing dishes. My traveling partner set up the tents and did all the literal heavy lifting while I swam, hiked, biked, camped, and natured myself better through the high desert of eastern Nevada.