This story connects to my previous blog post and kind of explains everything. When I wrote the first post, I realized this story needed it’s own blog post. In short, I explain how I misread a map and took a really challenging hike. Anyway, here’s the whole story! Enjoy.
It all started on my trip to San Fransisco. Me and my friends wanted to go to a forest and agreed to take a trip to Muir Woods. We heard Muir Woods is breathtakingly beautiful and one of those “you have to see it for yourself” trips. We didn’t expect anything difficult. All we wanted was to walk around and hope for anything interesting. When we bought the tickets, I insisted we have a map on hand, just in case. If it weren’t for that map, I don’t know what would have happened. My friend and I glanced at the map to pick a trail. On the map, there was a trail that lead to a meadow. Well, we weren’t quite experienced and failed to read the trail descriptions. Little did we know, the trail (bootjack trail to be exact) was a moderate/strenuous trail, not for beginners. Particularly for a group with one bottle of water (each), and wearing Vans and Converse sneakers. As we walked deeper in the woods, the trail got more steep and we were quickly losing breath. I could tell that we were traveling high because the road got more narrow, the slope to my left was getting taller and I could see the tops of the trees. Mind you, trees at Muir Woods are giant. If you could see the tops of the trees, you were climbing pretty damn high!
Nevertheless, we were all eager to see this so called “meadow” and refused to head back, even though we passed a group of hikers who warned us otherwise. As the trail got harder, I started losing faith in myself. I began to doubt that I could do it and wondered if I would ever make it back to my hotel alive. I was also the navigator of the trail and for awhile, I started believing that I was leading the group the wrong way. Climbing the incline got harder for me and I admit, I broke down several times. With the motivation of my sister, I kept on going. There really was no turning back. We made it pretty far and we needed to reach a rest stop or we could be severely dehydrated.Furthermore, there was no way we could make it back in time for the bus and we needed to find a park ranger who could help us find our way back.
Many miles and tears later, we reach the meadow! I wish I could say the meadow was worth the tears and it was exactly what I imagined but it wasn’t. It was the most disappointing dried up brown patch of grass I’ve ever seen. The most exciting thing I saw was a lizard scuttling across a giant ass boulder.To add more salt to the wound, the nearest ranger station was a half a mile away. A half a mile isn’t a big deal unless you are already worn out and in searing pain. But logically, turning back would be pointless. We checked the signs, studied the map, and checked our navigation several times (because our brains were completely fried) before we continued our journey.
Alas, we soon did find some hope during our climb. We ran into a group of hikers and they reassured us that we are not too far from the nearest rest stop. This motivated us to move farther and we tried to pick up our pace. Several minutes later, I could hear cars. Oh, how I missed the sound of cars! Carefully, but quickly we reached the top of the trail. I have never been so happy to see a wooden hut in my life. That wooden hut was none other than the ranger station. As far as I cared, that park ranger was my god and I found the promised land. We all rushed to the ranger, out of breath, covered in dirt and sweating from head to toe. The ranger looked at us like we were the biggest bunch of idiots she ever seen in her life. Which I was the biggest idiot she’s ever seen. At one point in my hike, I switched out of my tank top and had nothing on but shorts, shoes and a bikini top. Still, I didn’t care that I got weird looks or even laughed at by several families on my way back. They weren’t the ones who climbed nonstop for three hours straight nor did they have a bus to catch!
The ranger pointed out several options we could take but recommended that we just refill our water and go back the way we came. We had exactly one hour to get back and make it for the last bus that would take us to Sausalito. I packed my things and used all my strength left. It felt like the amazing race and we were the second to last team fighting for the finish line. I nearly slipped three times and if it weren’t for my sister, who knows where I would be. Once we reached flat land, we all kicked it into high gear and raced to the gate. If one of us could stop the bus, then we were home free. I could feel everything in my body telling me that what I was doing was too much for me to handle but I ignored my instincts. Even the instinct of human decency and civility. Remember, I’m still in my bikini top and there are hundreds of families passing me by. I got pointed, laughed at, double-take, jaw drop, looked away and several kids eyes were shielded (sorry for scarring those youngsters, it wasn’t intentional). Note: Towards the end of the run, I made time to put on my tee so I wouldn’t get scolded at.
I saw the ray of light at the entrance of the forest, I pick up the jog into a sprint and meet my sister. She has the biggest look of disappointment on her face. We didn’t make it to the bus. Right when my friend reached the end, she saw the bus drive off. We all crash on the nearest bench and try to come up with a new plan. The ranger suggested we walk uphill for a mile or more up to get signal and reach an Uber. That idea was out of the question and I could hear my feet crying in protest. Sleeping on that forest bench didn’t seem like a bad idea at the time and I considered it several times. If there really is a god, I’m sure he sent me a lifeboat. While sitting on our bench of shame, my sister spots a taxi cab casually parked. We run to the driver and ask if he could help us. He pitifully looked at all three of us and reduced his usual rate by ten dollars. We all practically flew in the van and kissed the leather upholstery.
Several hours later (like, 9pm), we finally made it back to the hotel safe and sound and we spend the rest of the day buried in the comforters of the hotel bed.
As I wrote in the other blog post, this hike was the most enlightening walk I have ever had. I was the most vulnerable and strongest person I have ever seen myself. Although my emotions were all over the place, it didn’t bother me about what people would think of me. The forest allowed myself to be free and remove the burden of putting on this face for everyone else. Plus, I have a wicked fun story to tell my friends and family!