Everything happens for a reason. I had been on the look-out for a daytime hiking group when one of my editors gave me a new assignment, to interview the leader of the Wild Women Hiking group. Quick-witted and quick-footed, Angeline Duran Piotrowski was a delight to interview and to hike with. During our interview, she mentioned that she was going to hike the Grand Canyon from the north rim to the south rim, in a few months.
That piqued my interest. As soon as I got home, I looked up the group on meetup.com and took the last spot. On one of the many training hikes leading up to the epic rim-to-rim hike, I met Karla Amador, co-founder of the 52 Hike Challenge. We promised to keep in touch and I tracked her down, found out about the challenge and embarked on my 52-hike journey which culminated just the other day, on the Sostomo Trail in Malibu.
I discovered at least 52 new trails at least and probably learned 52 new things along the way (flora, fauna, many uses of the bandanna, etc.) and met 52 of the coolest, fittest and hippest people on earth (Angeline, Karla, my Rim-to-Rim gals) but I won’t bore you with that.
I learned that it’s alright to be alone sometimes, than be with the wrong people, for the wrong reasons. There was so much laughter and liveliness on several of my hikes but I also learned to value silence. It is truly golden.
Pre-52 Hike Challenge, I was so absorbed in some post-divorce pain. I moaned and I groaned and wallowed in my misery. Hiking enabled me to focus on more productive pursuits. It brought me joy, healing and a depper appreciation of my blessings. It also diverted my focus on more productive endeavors like finishing my first book and growing my business.
To be able to forge new friendships, especially on the trails, is a gift. There is something special about those captivating conversations on the switchbacks even if it’s only in passing, even if it’s only about a new hiking contraption or the name of a wildflower. On the trails, everyone is in high spirits and helpful, ready with a protein bar or a story to share.
The trails do bring strangers together, because everything happens for a reason. Maybe that stranger next to you also has a story to tell or a burden to unload, like I did. Ask and listen.
May the trails be with you!
Favorite: Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
Most logistically challenging: Rim to Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
Toughest: Mt. San Gorgonio
Next up: Pacific Crest Trail (Section A)