Community Spirit

This weekend I had the opportunity to go car camping for the first time in my life at Arroyo Seco. (It’s never too late in your life to experience any firsts!) Part of the camping trip involved a 3-4 mile hike through a relatively easy trail, followed by a short descent to the bank of the stream. We blew up our inflatables (which is a lot harder than it looks) and set down the stream.

Due to the drought the stream was nonexistent for large portions and required hiking through moss-covered rocks (super slippery), rock protrusions in the water (which my friends dubbed butt sharks) and rock hills.

Making our way through a narrow slope down to a part of the stream.
Making our way through a narrow slope down to a part of the stream. I’m carrying my dog in her life vest with my left hand.

By the 5th hour of our hike, sun blazing and shade non-existent, the environment started to take a toll on us. Dehydration from poor water rationing, sunburn despite copious amounts of sunblock application, heat exhaustion from the beating sun and headaches set upon us. We had no idea how much further we had to go to reach the end of the stream (where our campground was located.) We plodded on. And on. And on.

There were moments I wanted to give up, but watching my friends be hopeful that the next bend might provide relief from the heat, or a path to the original hiking train, propeled me on. There wasn’t much that could be done to improve the situation, but we shared the remaining rations of granola bars and sunblock.

Eventually, after another hour, we found a trail of sorts, but we weren’t sure where it would take us. At this point our group split. Those of us with dogs trekked up the trail in hopes of finding the main path while the remaining continued down the stream. After a steep climb that involved ropes and ample quadricep strength, we reached the main path. From the main path, it was about 25 minutes before we reached the campground. I shoveled the only available food (since the good stuff was in the car of someone not at the campsite) of guacamole flavored ships, marshmallows, graham crackers and warm cranberry juice.

As for those down the stream? Two hours after my trekking party separated, one of our friends limped back telling us to grab the first aid kit because someone was injured. They were unable to find any trails after we separated and after an hour of wandering, started to climb up the side of a gorge. Loose rocks tumbled down and eventually sliced through the leg of one of our friends (who eventually had to get seven stitches).

So what is the point of this? Sometimes being in the company of others who can encourage us when things don’t look so peachy can inspire us to persevere. Not just in hikes, but in yoga class, at work, or just in life in general.

[All images courtesy of my friend Jeff Wang.]