And so, it begins.
As of today, it's been two months and eleven days since I moved to the Bay Area from India, and two months and nine days since I completed my first hike - a 6-mile loop in Mt Diablo State Park.
Before that day, I had very little idea of what a 'hike' entailed. If pressed, I’d describe it as a sort of cross between rock climbing and marathon running. Either that, or I’d conflate it with ‘trekking’ - the kind where lines of bundled-up people trudge through mountains with 100-pound backpacks and a snowstorm in their faces. While the Diablo loop wasn’t quite like that, it was hotter and drier than I’d expected, and I’d just seen my first billboard warning visitors about mountain lions. And yet, at some point, as I munched on a turkey-and-cheese sandwich and tried to remember whether I’d put on sunscreen that morning, I found myself thinking - I could get used to this.
As anyone will tell you, the Bay Area has an overabundance of trails - some easy, some hard, largely public transit-able, mostly in mountain lion territory, all beautiful. And since that first hike, whenever I need a screen break or just have some spare time, I select a trail and get moving. I document those hikes on Instagram, and I’ve built a go-to hiking-chic wardrobe courtesy Target and Charlotte Tilbury. And for those of you wondering, I can verify that climbing, running and snow trudging are not, after all, hiking requisites. (Of course, climb-y portions can crop up - just last month I found myself on a Class 4 scrambling stretch during the Mt Olympus ridge trail in Oahu, on a day when we had no water and my shoes had zero traction. As for trail running, I haven’t attempted it - yet. The same goes for snow trudging, although I can’t guarantee I won’t try it when winter rolls around.)
But why the blog?
I’m going through some life changes, one of the outcomes of which is that I currently don’t have a job. In between watching hours of Arthur on PBS Kids and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to start writing longer posts about my hiking adventures. By no means was this my first time blogging - since 2013, I’ve started at least ten, all of which eventually petered out. But this time I knew it would be different, and I’ll tell you why.
For a blog to work, it can’t just be about something you enjoy personally.
It has to be something you want to share with others.
Which is why, for instance, I could never blog sustainably about writing. I love writing (obviously), and I’m good at it, but it’s a private act for me. I don’t feel comfortable showing the ups and downs of how I get to a final piece.
But hiking - aww man.
So many new worlds have opened up since I fell in love with it. The aforementioned ridge trail, and then the jaw-dropping Martian landscapes of the 11 miles between Sliding Sands and Halemau’u Trailhead. Summiting Mt San Bernardino on a stomach full of 7-11 coffee, and doing over 50000 steps during a 21-mile trail up in Mammoth Lakes. I’ve taken my first climbing class, gotten my first tattoo (of a mountain lion!), and even started my own Meetup group for beginner hikers. And as a bonus, I’ve finally started attending therapy - and benefitting from it. All that ‘becoming a new me’ stuff they sell online? I actually feel it now. I feel stronger, healthier, and excited about living for the first time in goodness knows how long. And I want to share that excitement with others through the stories I write, and maybe help some of them find their own new worlds. I believe that everyone is capable of more than they think they are at present - not so long ago, I was panting if I climbed more than two flights of stairs. And I truly hope my perspectives can enable others to see that in some small way.
So, is it hard being without a job? Undoubtedly. But I’d like to use this time to give momentum to the other things I’m working on - this blog, the corresponding Instagram page, my mental health, and the hiking itself. I want to get faster, get stronger, carry heavier loads, summit higher peaks, explore farther-flung terrains. And that requires committing to consistent practices on and off the trail. I don’t know exactly what that will mean yet for me, but I’m eager to find out, and I’m eager to document the journey here on The Bougie Hiker Blog.
And I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
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