We:30 Share & Tell: Monique Brings Photos from Her Backpacking Trip

Every Wednesday at 3:30 we get together to celebrate an employee who exemplifies our core values to inspire, share, evolve, exceed and be 100% jerk-free. Our Share and Tell edition invites an employee to share something that inspires them and has a unique story. This week Monique, one of our Web Developers, brings photos from her recent backpacking trip. 

For this Share & Tell, I am following up with everyone about my backpacking trip. For those of you who may have missed my first Share & Tell, I shared about my love of hiking and about a backpacking trip I had planned through the Sierras in July (the John Muir Trail). Today marks one month since we have been back.  
Our journey would start in Yosemite Valley and end on Mt. Whitney for a total of about 240 miles. Unfortunately, due to bad weather (rain, thunder, lightning, hail, snow, and two avalanches to be exact) our trip was cut short by three days for a total of 210 miles. The unpredictable weather the last day, however, was not our only obstacle—wild fires and a toe infection also made the list. Luckily for us, it rained a lot so the threat of fires, although very real, remained low. We had many encounters with marmots, deer, coyotes, squirrels, bugs, and mosquitos but never any bears! I am relieved at that but also a little bummed. After reading about California black bears, I learned that unlike grizzlies they are very curious but timid creatures and will usually shy away from human populated areas. 

The beautiful sunset before the storm that ended our trip early.

We met a lot of really amazing people on the trail. One of these amazing individuals was a woman named Carol. Carol, a 65 year old retired school teacher from Nevada City was doing the trek on her own and was quite an inspiration. My husband and I met her around day 5 of our trip and ran into her every day after that. She said that it had always been on her bucket list to do the trek and so there she was, alone, hiking 240 miles.  She was one of the most optimistic people I have ever met and she taught me that you can do anything you set your mind to at any age. Sometimes she would pass us and sometimes we would pass her. Eventually we would all hike at our own pace during the day and meet in the evening to have dinner and camp together. Our trail family, as we called it, grew as the days went on. There were 8 of us at the end of this all and one of the most memorable things about the trip for me are the friendships we built. 

One of the questions that I get a lot when talking to people about my experience is if I ever felt like giving up. While some days it was harder than others to cope with the fact that we had gone all the way up to 12,000 feet, only to have to come all the way down to 7,000 feet, only to have to go all the way back up to 12,000 feet again, quitting simply wasn’t an option. I think this had to do with the insane amount of mental preparation I did. It never got easier but I did get stronger! It is amazing to see what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it! And even though we were not able to finish the whole 240 miles I am proud of what we accomplished and consider it a great success. Here are some things I learned about success on the trail:
1. You have to have a game plan.
2. You have to prepare.
3. Once you think you’ve prepared, prepare again.
4. Have a backup plan.
5. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed and will help you reach your goals.
6. Don’t give up! You’ve got about a mile, mile and a half left!
7. You can’t do it all alone, so ask for help.
8. The right attitude will make or break you. 

The infamous suspension bridge.  Straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.  Broken slabs and all!

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