Focus PT - June-July 2019

Focus Physical Therapy Bi-Monthly Focuspt.net 949.709.8770

June/July 2019

Soaked, Freezing, and Flattened

MY EVENTFUL FIRST BACKPACKING TRIP

it along. At the end, we stood atop one of the highest peaks in the entirety of Southern California, and for the first time, I

These days, I feel like I know my way around a trail, but that definitely wasn’t always the case. When you hear about my first hiking experience, you may wonder why I stuck with it at all. It must have been my sophomore year of high school; as a curious, active kid, the thought of a February trek up Mount San Jacinto with the school backpacking club sounded awesome. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any gear, so my dad and I took to the newspaper classifieds, that ancient Craigslist, to rustle up something serviceable. Spirits were high at the beginning of my maiden voyage. The area was coated with a thick blanket of fresh snow, and after the hourlong bus trip from school to the hiking site, it was starting to get dark. Somehow, a few of the more experienced hikers and I found ourselves far behind the rest of the group. We knew they were ahead on the trail, but one of us caught a glimpse of the group across a wide, open meadow. We decided to use it as a shortcut. I guess we didn’t account for the three feet of snow we’d have to trudge through. By that time, it was pretty clear that I’d chosen the wrong gear. Though the air was bitterly cold, I was sweating like crazy. I realized the pack I’d picked up secondhand was more suited for traveling across Europe than hoofing it up a mountain. My sleeping bag was one of those bulky models every family seems to have lying around: heavy and impossible to pack properly. Now, it had decided to unfold itself across my neck. By the time we caught up to the campsite, I was completely drenched in sweat and chilled to the marrow. I woke up in the morning with the roof of my tent 6 inches from my head, dribbling moisture into my eyes. It was mishap after mishap, but the craziest thing was yet to come. One of the other guys had the bright idea of bringing a big inflatable raft along, with the goal of sledding down one of the huge mountains. We blew it up and decided to drag it up to the peak. Across something like 3–6 miles, we traded off tying the thing to our waist and hoisting

marvelled at what I’d accomplished, and the sheer scope of the beauty stretching in every direction.

Then I looked down at the long, steep, snow-covered slope down to our campground.

“We could go a lot faster if we took this raft back down,” somebody said. So all three of us piled into the raft and tied it to the guy in front to prevent it from sliding away when we inevatably capsized. We shoved off and held our breath. It didn’t take long for us to reach a speed so startling that we decided to bail out. The two of us in back had no problem leaping off, but the guy in front tied to the raft wasn’t so lucky. Like a scene from a cartoon, he’d jump, flip, bounce back onto the raft, and bounce back off the raft, on repeat for a good 100 yards. After inspecting our various aches and pains to ensure there was nothing serious, we hopped back onto the raft and zoomed down the mountain one last time, narrowly hurtling between an enormous boulder on one side and a towering tree on another. We survived, miraculously, and the rest of the trip went off without incident. Despite being soaked to the bone with sweat and snow, nearly frozen solid, and flattened against the face of a mountain, I knew I’d found something special. Little did I know that it’d be a passion that would follow me for the rest of my life. I’m just thrilled that I’ve been able to pass this incredible hobby along to my kids — without a deathtrap raft in tow and with the proper gear.

Focus Physical Therapy • Call 949.709.8770 • 1 –Julian Manrique

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