This story is part of Fix’s Outdoors Issue, which explores how we build connections to nature, why those connections matter, and how equitable access to outside spaces is a vital climate solution.
“If at any point you need to bail, I’m right behind you,” said Luci.
We were the caboose of a six-person hiking group, hoping to reach the 9,500-foot summit of Gran Sasso — one of the tallest peaks in Italy’s Apennine Mountains, two hours east of Rome — by sunrise. The moon was full. Stars filled the endless navy sky. My gaze drifted from my boots in the dewy grass up thousands of feet to the mountains’ dry, jagged peaks. I nervously shuffled one foot in front of the other — this was the farthest and steepest hike I had ever gone on. A familiar coat of fear settled at the back of my lungs.
I live with a rare, chronic illness called granulomatosis with polyangiitis: When flaring, my immune system becomes overactive and attacks my vascular system. My blood cells aren’t able to get the oxygen they need, which can lead to organ failure. I have lowered heart function, a transplanted kidney, limited hip mobility, and a medica... Read more