Ms Frizzles’ First Two Weeks

Plentiful Friends

As I drove to Cleef camp and looked at the circle of hikers gathered around a fire, I felt anxious about meeting so many strangers.

Day one we made our first trail friends

Two weeks in and the culture on trail has lessened my social anxiety. Unlike on day hikes, every new face is a potential friend. In fact I have found the social aspects of the trail to be some of the most rewarding.

Camping on day 3 with a bunch of girls and 4 Shawn’s

Trail Name

On day 4 of the hike I received my trail name from some new friends including Brainstorm and Snippet. Ms. Frizzle they called me after I’d ranted to them about neuropsychology and started too many sentences with ‘did you know?’ It helped that I wear a hiker dress on trail, have frizzy hair and take care of kids in my normal life.  (Mrs frizzle is a teacher in the popular 90s cartoon the magic school bus).

There have been a couple times I wish a magic school bus could carry me over the hard parts. But as the theme phrase to the magic school bus says “A normal field trip? Not with the frizz!” 

Ups and Downs

Bad news first

The first hard day was due to heat and a long water carry. My hiking partner Bird brain and me struggled to find just a smidgen of shade in the desert. We ended up laying down under a tiny bush for an hour listening to an audiobook.

We dealt with the climb very dramatically

The last few days going up through San Jacinto however were the hardest yet. The downed trees, snow and uphill trek slowed us down to 1 mile an hour. Both me and Bird Brain are unfamiliar with the snow. During our first snow hike while one leg was over a log, my other leg post-holed into the snow leaving me in a very awkward ‘splits’ position.

First snow

Though she laughed at my predicament I couldn’t ask for a better hiking buddy. Having been friends since age 6, we share everything, communicate easily and come to mutual decisions about pace and plans effortlessly. Recently a hiker asked me in a hushed tone who gave Adrienne the trail name birdbrain jokingly saying she would slap them. I had to admit it was me (with all good intentions.) Every day on trail she falls behind me when distracted by birds then catches up to my slow pace. She is reclaiming the previously insulting term telling people “birds are smarter than people give them credit for.”

Birds aren’t the only thing Bird brain has been hoping to see, snakes are also on the top of her list. Attempting to find a spot to pee one afternoon she finally got her wish. I heard a loud rattle and saw her jump back “I almost stepped on a rattlesnake!” she said with energetic terror. At least it gave us a push of energy to hightail it up a hill.

cowboy camping next to a creek

The Fun Stuff

The trail has had much more up than downs however. I still feel nostalgic for the group I hiked the first few days with. We had an excited nervous energy. Bird Brain and I agreed that we laugh more on the trail.

We are greeted with so much kindness. One hiker let me borrow her battery after I had left mine in the freezing cold leaving it to drain of charge. Another gave her compression socks to Adrienne when she mentioned the pain in the arch of her foot. Two trail angels Janine and Bicycle Mike drove us for hours asking for very little in return and showing genuine care for hikers.

All this kindness has me wondering on the trail, what is the secret to being a person who makes a difference in the life of others. I asked Mike, a trail angel who opens his property to hikers. He said “to follow your spirit and do the right thing in the moment.” Mike didn’t want to have any regrets of having the thought to help someone and not following through.

Mike promoted me to do some art on his house

Though the gesture was small, the coffee and little hostess cupcake Mike gave me on that stormy birthday morning was the highlight of my day. 

Bicycle Mike with us after driving us to Big Bear

Bicycle Mike who drove us 100 miles simply said that the secret to kindness was that “I like people” diving deeper he said “cancer changed everything about me. I just want to give back.”

That love for the small joys is one of my favorite aspects of backpacking. I have taken three showers so far and each one feels like pure bliss. Sleeping in a real bed after 16 days on a pad felt made me feel like a luxurious princess. I have never appreciated the smell of clean laundry more than after hiking in filth for a week. Restaurant food like the steak I bought in idyllwild this morning tastes a thousand times better after eating ramen and mashed potato’s for a week. Oh the joys of flushable toilets. 

Going to Big Bear

We were thrilled to hike our first 100 miles

I have not once wished I could be off the trail. Walking all day and camping under the stars is starting to feel like home. We are jumping 100 miles north from Idyllwild to Big Bear tomorrow and part of  me has the same nervous social anxiety as I did at the start of my hike. But one thing I have grown certain of is that everyday is a new chance for a friend and to show or receive kindness. All of us hikers are doing the hard thing together and there is a beautiful comradery in that. 

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Comments 2

  • Margaret Pevec : May 4th

    Hi Lucia, it’s Adrienne’s grandmother in Colorado. So cool to read your blog and hear about your adventures! I’m so proud of you both. I can relate to and really appreciate your transparency about hiking while fat; I’m sure it will help many people who are not sure whether they should hike the PCT or not. Your musings about how to stay present and focus on your feelings of enjoyment rather than being goal-oriented is a great reminder to all of us about a better way to live. The prevailing culture around body, weight, strength and happiness is transforming (at long last) and you are part of making that happen. Bravo! Keep the posts coming so I know how you’re doing. I’d love to know more about the logistics and your plan for the time you have before you start grad school.

  • Kirsten Liske : May 5th

    Yay Lucia and Adrienne – just Yay! Seeming like its rolling out perfectly and congrats on making it through the hot desert. I thought of you when I backpacked in the Grand Canyon in the heat and was able to take the full midday off under trees. so hot!

    Keep dropping into the goodness and trail magic!



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