Ever since I first began toddling in my socks, I loved being in nature. With my family, we took trips all over Israel, and I learned the names of the wildflowers, the history of the archaeological places, and how to look safely under rocks.
As an adult, after successfully avoiding any form of exercise for the better part of fifteen years, it was clear to me that I could not walk for long, carry a backpack, or under any circumstances sleep in a tent. I limited myself to short, easy hikes and stays at dreary motels.
The desire to be in nature, however, burned in me, and finally, thanks to my friend Genevieve, I took the backpacking plunge. We purchases sleeping bags, a tent, backpacks, a cooking set and freeze-dried food, and we were ready for our first try. We chose our favorite place to hike: Henry Coe State Park. Genevieve picked a trail which she felt would be appropriate (eight miles the first day and five the next), set the length of the trip for two days, and off we went.
I remember us trudging on Springs Trail that April afternoon. I followed Genevieve, wondering at finding myself carrying a backpack. We arrived at China Hole which had risen with the rains and covered our trail. We took off our shoes and waded through, shivering at the chilly water. The path meandered uphill for several miles till it reached Mahoney Meadows and our last stretch into Lost Spring. Lost Spring, a lost cause indeed, was nothing but drippy muddy water. We felt lucky that we had brought enough water till we discovered that my water had entirely oozed out of my hydration bag.
We learned a lot that trip and continued to make mistakes in trips to come. There was the day we hiked fifteen miles in 110 degrees and run completely out of water because of a rattlesnake. There was the time we forgot to bring the pot and had to cook in one of our titanium bowls. There was the hike in which both of us ended quite ill after not bringing enough food.
Now I have a backpacking partner in my boyfriend Dar. We still make mistakes and try to learn from them if we can. We plan on hiking the John Muir Trail from Yosemite to Mount Whitney. We want to venture into the wild Kalalau Trail. Today, indoors, I look at the fog hanging over the world outside, and I close my eyes and imagine what it will be like to sleep under the stars again, to fight the mosquitos, miss fresh food, and dare to swim in a cold lake. How lucky I am to be healthy and strong! How lucky that I have the hiking bug! How lucky that I had been brave enough to challenge my beliefs about myself and discover that I can do so much more than I thought I can.