On Friday August 10th, I met my Big City Mountaineers team leader and one of the co-leaders at the car rental at Oakland Airport. A week later when I walked by that exact spot, I looked back, like I was passing the ghost my former self.
Ever have those experiences that need to sink in for a long time so that they can be fully digested? That’s where I'm at. Backpacking for five days in the Yosemite wilderness with six teenage girls was beautiful, at times daunting, and the kind of experience that opened my heart in a completely new way.
It was a week in their life, a week in my life, shared together in a beautiful place. I felt an amazing sense of responsibility. All the trip leaders said afterwards that it was so hard to drop them off at the Boxing Association on the last day because for a week we were so intensely looking after their safety.
We backpacked for 5 days and 4 nights, covering a total of 20 miles. That is actually pretty low mileage for the amount of time we were out, but it was plenty for the girls, especially since the trail’s elevation ranged from 8000-9600 feet. Yosemite is really dry and dusty right now (but no mosquitos), so we stayed by a different lake every night so that we had enough water since all the streams are dried up.
Our middle “summit day” was spent at 9600 feet, by Breeze Lake, where we swam, wrote and recited poetry, did yoga on our camp mats, played cards, and just chilled out in an amazing oasis.
Some of the highlights of the trip included watching for shooting stars every night (one girl went from being afraid to stand outside at night to sleeping outside in her sleeping bag until dawn one night), swimming together after hiking all day, hearing their jokes and their way with words, seeing them perservere, encouraging them to lift themselves and each other up, listening to them recite their poetry, and just seeing them explore who they are at those critical ages of twelve to seventeen.
They all have had some difficult experiences as young people including having parents with health problems, relationship problems, or drug problems. I know they are going to be stronger and wiser for having gone through this experience. More than being about learning to love the outdoors, this trip was about finding inner strength. The girls would say that the trip was "hecka hard", but also "hecka beautiful".
So thanks so much to all those who donated! I’m about halfway to my fundraising goal of $200, so if you have $10 to contribute, I’d so appreciate it! BCM is still collecting donations for us until Aug. 31st. While BCM gets a lot of equipment donated, there are still a lot of expenses that go into each trip including food, gas, rental vans, trip leader payments, park fees, medical supplies, etc. Since I don’t want to post pictures of the girls online, I’ll be sending the trip photos along to all those who donate so you can see the lovely Queens of Yosemite.