After hiking through the Mojave desert and soaking in some natural hot springs along the way, we’ve found ourselves holed up in the super, hiker-friendly town of Wrightwood, California. It’s a sweet, little conservative, town nestled at the base of Mt. Baden Powell.
Less than 24 hours before our arrival, Tim and I were in the midst of an iconic American experience having completely fueled up on Big Macs and McFlurries to hike the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Of course this American trail would go straight to a Mickey D’s situated at Cajon Pass along the I-15 highway leading straight to L.A.
We made it through Angeles National Forest fueled mostly on our McDonald’s binge. Then it was snowing and sleeting and blowing ice in my face, the kind that makes you worried for the health of your corneas. My corneas are fine, thankfully. I feel slightly embarrassed to reveal that while this was happening I was comparing myself to Helen Thayer, the first person to ski solo to the North Pole. Unlike Helen, I had more than 7 nuts to last me for the afternoon, and knew I would be getting to town within 10-15 miles where I had a warm hotel booked that would hopefully have a hot shower. (It did.)
I grinned to myself as I came down the mountain realizing how ridiculous I looked, but more importantly how small my risk was compared to Thayer’s. To paint the picture, I was cloaked in an ugly, oversized, taupe colored, Frogg Togg- a lightweight and effective rain coat-that anyone who sees me wearing it can’t help but make jokes about my looks, which of course makes me want to wear it more. I realized pretty quickly that although I was miserable, I was in absolutely zero danger. I was warm enough and moving quickly, even running portions. My biggest perceived obstacle was that I was hoping to hitch the 5 miles into town, which I was worried about considering I couldn’t imagine that anyone in their right mind would be driving in this SoCal snowstorm. Thayer had to wait a couple days as she starved waiting for a plane to pick her up at the North Pole. Turns out, I needn’t be worried since trail angels were actively seeking out hikers and giving them rides to town to save them from the weather, a gesture that was so touching that my eyes grew sweaty.
Before we made it to the bottom of the mountain and snagged our ride, I found myself grinning. Not because I was happy. I wasn’t. I was grinning because I had so freely and arrogantly compared myself to Thayer, a true, real-life, adventurer, and I immediately felt silly when I realized I was doing it. Then, I felt excited that there are women like Thayer who I know that make me feel confident in my ability to tackle challenges like these and it led me to consider what other challenges I might be able to face.