“May I see the map?”
Handing Jodi the map I looked out into the distance. A hint of color was beginning to hit the uppermost edges of scrubby blueberry leaves tucked in the crevices of a broken rock with its glowing greens and oranges registering the smallest of life. A few individuals could be seen on the peaks just beyond. We’d accomplished our goal, climbing our second 4,000-footer of the day, exceeding our timeline and the weather was as near perfect as we could request on any given moment in these temperamental mountains.
A few moments later Jodi returned and began her quickly practiced, well thought and confident statement of the situation. Shortly, followed by her proposal.
Showing me the map, she outlined the route we had climbed from the trailhead to our first peak. Then, the trail used to access our second peak. Next, she showed the trail we were intending to descend to the trailhead parking lot. Then, with nary a hesitation, she outlined the route we would need to take to a third 4,000-footer, discussed the elevation ascent and descent, revealed an alternative trail we could descend to reach a forest service road that we could walk for 1.7-miles to our parked vehicle at the trailhead. Jodi talked about the time of day, the timeframe needed to finish, the weather and concluded we could finish before dark and would add few additional miles (I don’t remember now but it wasn’t but a few) to our day.
“Can we do it?”
It was at this exact moment that I realized our summer of hiking together, our summer of sharing mountains and peaks, sickness and health (on one of our overnight hikes I got deathly ill and well, it was a long, long, long hike out), laughter and tears. She had lived at the base of these mountains all of her life, but this was her season of personal growth, triumph and self-value. It was now that I KNEW more women needed to delve into a landscape of fear, of heights, of challenge to which individual success, accomplishment and confidence would transect every component of their life.
We reached the trailhead with plenty of time. Full of pleasure that comes only from beads of sweat, fresh mountain air, shared stories, mossy rocks, cool breezes and hiking boots.
Eating one of the likely hundreds of hot fudge brownie sundaes I’d ingested over the years hiking in these mountains, I allowed the story to unfold gradually to Boone. By the time the spoon (notice, the spoon, I don’t share dessert) rattled in the bottom of the oversized glass goblet a decision was made. We would open a company that specialized in getting women outside and by doing so we should share skills, knowledge and experience to promote a self-confidence.
It took a couple of years, thousands of dollars in gear and equipment, lengthy and bewildering permits, a move half-way across the country and hours upon hours of hiking trails to gain familiarity but our goal was reached in June 2010. Since then, we’ve shared this knowledge with so many women. All that, coming from one confident friend asking to read the map.