I love to tell people that when Erin and I met, I was twice her age. Erin was twenty-one and I trust you to do the math. That was eight years ago: I’ll always be twenty-one years older, but I’ll never be twice her age again. Maybe I like to tell people as an excuse for why I can’t keep up with her. Or maybe I’ve always been surprised that such an age difference never seemed to impede our friendship.
We started out with what you might call a mentor-protégée relationship, but that quickly morphed into just gal pals. We have a lot in common; both had made a mess out of our lives in our early years, then made remarkable recoveries and excelled at getting an education. But Erin has talents that far exceed mine. She’s a phenomenal writer, and a fast runner. Most important, she has a hunger for adventure.
I’m a seasoned runner, not fast now (and never really was), but Erin tolerates my pace because I’m willing. We both love the outdoors and that’s what this story is about.
We’ve done a lot of hiking and trail running together. We even made it to the top of Mt. Whitney, a 22 mile hike that at 14,496′ put us at the highest point in the continental U.S.
Now it’s two years later and Erin has ambitions to hike the entire John Muir Trail, a 221-mile hike through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I plan to help her train and meet this goal. I might do part of the trail with Erin, but I’m on a different journey.
I’m recently divorced and still figuring out who I am as a single woman. Am I an avid outdoors person when not married to a mountain man? I wasn’t sure at first. I kind of rebelled, actually. The pendulum swung far to the other side and I didn’t hike for an entire year. And then I did. And then I remembered who I am; A mountain woman with hillbilly blood pulsing through her veins. It’s good to know.
So this is a story about two women hiking side-by-side, but also on our own paths. I have no idea how this story will go, because I’m writing it as it happens. We are going to approach this in a smart and methodical way, no “Wild*” story here where women take off on a trail being ill-prepared with a semi-death wish. Hell, I’m a mom. The mom of a Boy Scout, if that means anything to you. I know about being prepared. So that is what we are doing. Preparing. And I plan to share what I learn along the way, because just as I truly am a mountain woman at heart, I am a natural teacher.
Erin and I have a plan that includes camping and hiking, gear testing, and backpacking trips that are gradually longer. I hope you enjoy this journey and benefit from whatever we learn. Mostly I hope that you are encouraged in some way, whatever your ‘mountain’ is.
Erin and I on my first hike back. Mt. Baldy, November of 2016
- This “Wild” reference is about Cheryl Strayed and her book and movie by the same title. I actually think Cheryl Strayed is a like-minded woman, someone very cool that Erin and I would enjoy hanging out with. But her book and movie have popularized hiking to the point that we may not even get in on the lottery that is required to do this hike. No offense or disrespect to CS, but she inspired a lot of foolhardy people. We are attempting a thoughtful approach.