Return to San G: after a less than positive experience climbing allllll the way to the top last summer, I decided to revisit the Vivian Creek trail this weekend. The last time I walked these steps, I had mascara running down my face from an afternoon of ugly crying my way down the mountain. This time, instead of doing the extremely grueling 17.3 mile hike to the summit, we just did the first 20% of the trail and headed back down to the car. If you’ve hiked Vivian Creek trail before, then you know that this first part of the hike is a strenuous jaunt through the forest with gorgeous views of the surrounding area. Even completing just this small portion is an accomplishment.
On the way down, I chatted briefly with another hiker heading up the trail. She (politely) told me we had missed out and should have gone farther; we didn’t hike far enough to see the beautiful part of the trail. What’s the part of driving all the way out here, she said, if you’re just going to hike the first “ugly” little bit and turn around? This hiker didn’t mean anything negative by her comments, but I couldn’t help but take a little bit of offense. I felt judged by this total stranger who knew absolutely nothing about me or the reasons why I chose to do the trail the way that I did. I was a little angry because I felt like her comments took something away from the hike I had just done by insinuating it wasn’t “enough.”
Just because you aren’t doing the same hike others are doing—whether you physically can’t, don’t have the time or resources, or just aren’t in the mood to—doesn’t make the path you choose any less worthy. There’s such an emphasis on “bagging peaks” and yes, this can be incredibly rewarding. But, it’s not the only way to hike. I’ve hiked all the way to the tippy top of San Gorgonio and it was probably the worst experience I ever had on a trail. Yesterday, I chose to hike "only" a couple miles up and it was one of the best, most beautiful hikes I’ve done all year, and no one is going to take that away from me.