It’s OK to Date a Girl Who Climbs Mountains

When most people see me, they view me as someone who has my head in the clouds. Most of my posts on social media feature breathtaking scenery of outdoors adventures and, yes, of course, mountains. Like most people, and not just women in particular, I can’t explain what it is about mountains and adventure that keeps me coming back for more.

Perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t like crowds and enjoy going to places where (for the most part) I don’t have to deal with them. Or maybe it’s because the once sheltered little girl in me has finally realized that the roof has come off and she’s free to fly wherever the wind takes her. Maybe I just love the idea of exploration and taking pictures of pretty things to quench my insatiable longing for something more out of life. Maybe I just feel most beautiful when I’m standing among the trees, rocks, creeks, crags and hills. There is no way to pinpoint any one reason.

One thing I know for sure is that what John Muir said about climbing the mountains to get their good tidings is absolutely true. There are plenty of good tidings to be received in the mountains, and those tidings should be shared with someone special. It’s just that many of us women who fancy ourselves as climbers aren’t viewed as date-worthy or marriage-worthy material. While we may in fact be considered crush-worthy, there’s just something about us that keeps potential suitors at bay. We find ourselves caught in this weird conundrum where we are viewed as both too much and not enough.

In this sense, we are too much because we can go out into the wilderness for days and take care of our needs for survival. We can be totally okay whether we’re alone on the trail or with others. We’re too much because you can always find us standing on top of another high peak looking large and in charge, having conquered the greatest mountain of all: ourselves. We’re too much because we can fall multiple times, scrape our knees, get a black eye (which happened to me once), get back up, dust ourselves off and keep trekking. In the sense of being not enough, we’re not enough in that we aren’t needy enough or vulnerable enough. We’re not pretty enough or tall enough or skinny enough. We’re basically just not good enough.

Two years ago, I went on a backpacking trip with a group of men. I had only met two of those men in previous encounters but I still didn’t know them very well. I wanted to do this trip because I knew it would be a great adventure on a very scenic portion of the John Muir Trail and it would challenge me to bring my hiking to a higher level. I had never backpacked before this trip, so I did all that I could to research ahead of time, yet I also went prepared to learn some things by trial and error as I went along with it. I knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk, but I was up for the challenge.

Things didn’t go perfectly as there were some hiccups along the way. There were also places where I had to really pray and seek direction to discern which way to go. On the first day of the trek, I fell way behind from the group and ended up hiking solo. I thought I would eventually catch up to them at the first camping spot before sunset, but became very concerned as I noticed it getting darker and there was no sign of any of the guys. Just as I began to panic, I saw one of them hiking down the trail toward me. He said he was getting tired and had to slow down, so he turned around to check on me. This was one of the guys I had never met before the trip. I encouraged him to have a snack and rest for a bit.

It was getting dark fast and we knew we’d have to make a decision soon. We never caught up to the rest of the guys that evening, so we decided to stop and set up camp just off the trail. On the other side of the trail was a small open space with the remnants of a fire pit and the creek flowed nearby so we had access to water. Together, we set up our tents and later built a campfire for warmth while preparing dinner in his Jet Boil. I brought my own but left it at the trailhead in my car to save weight as my pack already weighed 40 pounds. I cringe to think of what would have happened had no one come back for me.

Many of my friends have had similar experiences on the trails and find themselves in the same boat, feeling like they are too much and yet not enough. Whatever that invisible wall is that’s causing so many of us to not connect needs to come down. Yes, we love the outdoors. Yes, we are adventurers who believe we can succeed at whatever we set our minds to. Yes, we love climbing big mountains. Yes, we can trek along in the wilderness for five days or more carrying our homes on our backs. Yes, we are pretty darn fierce.

Yet, we’re the ones who know how to live happily with plenty and with little. We delight in the simple things in life. You don’t have to go out and buy us a $50 bouquet. A wildflower that you picked out of the ground means just as much, if not more. We love just as fiercely as we pursue the trails we venture onto. We never give up on our mountains. We will never give up on you.

It’s okay to date a girl who climbs mountains.

~J

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Mid-Week Wanderlust: Corral Canyon and Jim Morrison’s Cave

We had seen the incredible rock formations along the Backbone Trail during last year’s 67-mile section series. This time, we made it a point to go and explore Corral Canyon in Malibu and take a side trip to the Jim Morrison cave. We had the perfect weather; it was neither too hot or cold. Of course, you don’t want to be on those rocks on a hot day as the heat reflects off the rocks and makes it miserable. We had a small group and that made it easy for us to stay together and take time to help each other up and down the rocks. There were some additional rock formations we spotted from afar that we will go and explore on a future adventure.

Sensational Santa Barbara Series: Gaviota Wind Caves

In Part 2 of our Sensational Santa Barbara Series, we once again went to Gaviota State Park just north of Santa Barbara, CA to explore the Gaviota Wind Caves. The caves are located on the western half of the park and we did our hike as a one-way car shuttle to shave off some mileage and elevation gain. To reach our destination, we hiked on a variety of trails including the Yucca Trail, Hollister Trail, Beach to Backcountry Trail, Woodland Trail, Trespass Trail and Tunnel View Trail. At just over 7 miles and a mere 1,000 feet of elevation gain, we had ourselves quite an adventure and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

Hiking the Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge

The Goat Canyon Trestle bridge, located in Carrizo Gorge near Jacumba, CA is the largest curved wooden trestle bridge in the world. We started our hike at the trailhead off the dirt road next to the De Anza Springs (clothing optional) resort. The hike was on a relatively flat trail that followed a railroad track all the way to the bridge. A few people in our group rode their bikes while the rest of us hiked. This was a 16-mile out and back trail in a remote location and it is not recommended to hike or bike alone. Round up a few friends, go out there and have a fabulous time on this epic adventure!

Cats, Coffee and Potato Chip

I had only been to San Diego maybe a couple of times and wasn’t aware of anything more exciting to warrant a visit than the zoo. The drive down there from LA can be horrendous and take hours, especially on a holiday weekend. So why did my friend Jodi and I decide to make the trip on MLK Day other than the fact we were bored with nothing else to do?

Well, we are both hikers and Jodi likes to push the envelope a bit further with her mountain bike. I had heard of this impressive geologic feature, a rock outcropping called Potato Chip Rock and decided it was something I just had to see. Some friends of mine had been there a while back and I had seen various Internet photos of people standing, sitting, doing wild poses on this seemingly potato chip-thin rock.

Sign in the Cat Cafe

In addition to Potato Chip Rock, I had heard about a place called The Cat Cafe, which I discovered via an article shared on the Crazy Cat Ladies Unite Facebook page. I figured Jodi and I could go to The Cat Cafe first since it was downtown and then head back toward Poway afterwards and do the hike. Since the hike was only ~7 miles round trip, it seemed like an easy enough day.

Cats' PlayroomWe left Laguna Hills early and arrived in San Diego around 9am, parked on the street and walked into the welcoming doors of The Cat Cafe. Now, in case you’re wondering, The Cat Cafe does not serve cats up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. What they do serve is a nice cup of joe that you order on one side of the quaint establishment and a separate playroom for the cats lined with tables and chairs for you to sip your espresso while enjoying quality time with new furry friends.

Cat on a ShelfAt the time of our visit, there were 13 cats and all were available for adoption for a mere $25. We stayed for about an hour and I really got to know Barry, a black and white tuxedo cat who came and chilled on my lap for a while. Jodi also met a new friend whose name escapes me. The cat that stole the show was a Calico kitten named Frida who was literally bouncing off the walls running over everything as a little boy toyed with her. She was so cute and entertaining. We could have watcher her all day.

We left The Cat Cafe around 10am and arrived at Lake Poway around 10:30. The sign on the gate warned that the gate would be closed at 5:00, so we knew we couldn’t waste any time. Neither of us had done the hike before, but the trail descriptions we read online said the hike was 6-7 miles round trip with a 2,000ft gain. The average completion time was listed as 3-5 hours. We made our way to the Mt. Woodson Trailhead and started our adventure.

Gradual AscentThe trail begins a gradual ascent that takes you on a parallel incline providing expansive views of Lake Poway below. As we started out, it was pretty hazy with the marine layer, so we didn’t get the full lake effect until later in the afternoon on the way out. The marine layer served us well in keeping the temperature down because the trail is exposed pretty much the entire way.

Steep, Rocky SectionI had heard that the trail could get very crowded and didn’t know why I thought a holiday weekend would be less crowded. There were droves and droves of people of all ages, shapes and sizes enjoying this trail. Some only wore sneakers and carried a bottle of water. I figured that they had to be locals who most likely use the hike for conditioning purposes or just a regular workout. Jodi and I carried our backpacks and were in full hiking mode as if we were climbing Mt. Baldy (Mt. San Antonio).

End of City Maintained TrailSpeaking of Mt. Baldy, this hike felt a bit like a mini-Baldy in that it got pretty steep and rocky at times. The trail climbs up a well-graded path initially, but then you reach a point where the trail is no longer maintained as advertised by a trail sign. Then you ascend through a boulder field where you really have to watch you footing. Trekking poles would have been useful, but I left mine in the car.

Sitting in a TreeWhen we got to within about 1.5 miles of Potato Chip Rock, we reached a tree where people were sitting on a rock slab enjoying a snack, the views and the sun that was burning its way through the marine layer. We had a snack and took a few pictures, then were on our way again.

It wasn’t long before we could see the radio towers that mark Mt. Woodson’s summit, and then just below that, a colorful line of people was visible, which drew my attention to the rock outcropping known as Potato Chip Rock. When we reached the end of the line, we knew we’d be there for a while as we watched various people get upon the rock and pose for various shots that someone in line took.

Mt. Woodson Summit

 

We patiently awaited our turn, and after about 45 minutes, were able to stand proudly atop Potato Chip Rock for our own personal two minutes of fame. Jodi got on first and I snapped a few pictures of her and then we switched and she did the same for me. I wasn’t bold enough to jump for a pic in mid-air like Jodi did, but I did sit on the edge swinging my legs.

Jumping Jodi

Sitting Pretty

On the hike back to the parking lot, we saw the lake in all its splendor with the glow of the sunset adding a nice effect on the still water. We finished the hike in time to take the short stroll down to the lake for some pictures and still made it out of the gate well before closing time. Another adventure is checked off our list.

Lake Poway at Sunset

Hike on!