Wisdom Is Where It Finds You

I was hiking the high Sierra yesterday, feeling pretty good about myself as I made my way up to 9100 feet, then down to a small pond for lunch at about 8400 feet. I had a Camelback filled with Gatorade, lunch, and my D300 with lens, keeping it light for a day hike with some friends. After lunch, and about 4 miles under our belts, we met another hiker along the trail.

She had an old external frame backpack with patches from various hiking organizations sewed on. A pretty worn out sleeping mat was strapped to the top, and what appeared to be a well used sleeping bag hung from the bottom of her pack. It looked way too big for her small, fragile body. 

We got to chatting about how dry the season was, what a beautiful day, where we hiked in from and where we were going, you know, the usual stuff you chat about when meeting someone on the trail. I couldn’t help but notice her long braid of gray hair hanging on her left shoulder as we chatted, and the weathered look of a face that had seen many miles. Surely she couldn’t be hiking alone, I thought, but she was. Solo hiking to Showers Lake to spend 3 nights!

I couldn’t help myself, I know the rules, never ask a woman her age, but I also knew the exception to the rule. When women reach a certain age, they tend to brag about it. How many grandchildren they have, how many presidents they voted for, and how many husbands they outlived. They become proud of their age and wear their wisdom in each wrinkle on their face. So I asked. 77, she said without hesitation. Way to go, I returned.

I thought about what she said as I struggled that last mile back to the car. I had asked her how she does it? “I just keep putting one foot in front of the other”, she answered.

Don’t forget the Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk August 23. I will be leading the South Lake Tahoe walk. Check the site to join a city near you.