Through Problems We Learn


I am a mix of emotions.

  • happy: Gina is safe.
  • proud: The SoCal Trail Headz (SCTHz) rallied in a true grass-roots sense to help its community.
  • bummed: In my daily life, I add minimal value to “making a difference.”

Gina, an accomplished ultra-runner full of grit, determination, and will went missing for 3 days in scorching 100 degree temperatures after running on the most strenuous trail I know of in the Cleveland National Forest.  detailed story

The running group that both she and I are in, SCTHz, immediately started efforts after discovering the news. At least 4 groups of 5ish runners flanked the canyon she was in.  Gina came out of the canyon within a day of us finding the news.

I found the news out at 7:30am, during a pointless conference call.  I immediately had memories of two runs I did with her, the 2008 Mt Disappointment Ultra and a training run for the 2008 Saddleback Marathon.  The first I did a quasi Indian run with her and Maya.  The second I learned the course that I later conquered.  But, these memories were hiding in my brain, and suddenly emerged with the news of her.  It’s funny how the brain works like that.

Soon after the meeting, I was on my way to help.  It’s what we do.  In two text messages, Pam told me what to bring and where to go.  After wadding through the news cameras, we took off.  LSD, Michelle, EKP, Janet, Molly, and I headed up Los Pinos Trail in the heat of the day.

We shouted to the un-answering Gina. We guessed what happened to Gina.  We kept an optimistic outlook. We drank lots of water; water that Gina did not have for 3 days.

dre sent me an update!

A helicopter spotted a person matching Gina’s description.  We held tight on the trail, hoping for the best.  No news confirming the spotting.

We decided to go further in, at least cresting Los Pinos for a better view.  Soon after, we received news that the the black helicopter that flew within a quarter mile of us going slowly and smoothly was carrying Gina to safety.

On the way back, we heard the roar (literally) of the second shift support: jeff, special k, Steve, and Shannon. We playfully descended into the canyon.  We were thankfully happy.

grassroots

It was neat to see that we didn’t need the media. We were part of a real grassroots effort.  We used our running website, Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging to organize the search.  If anything, I found most of the media distracting by asking us stoopid questions while we were getting ready to head out.  I hope that we are at the start of an exponentially increasing era of independent media.

hard part

I admit I am going through a quarter-life crisis, reflecting on my minimal real world skills.  It was very rewarding realizing that I have the ability to cross the 22 mile trail in the hottest part of the summer.  This is probably my only real world skill that I consider myself good at.  The hard part is going back to normal life again, with its lack of excitement and its obscure purpose of pushing paper.

Thank God for unicorns.

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    jeff said,

    i had lunch today with two guys that i’ve done some mountaineering with. one of them is an avid mountain biker and is very familiar with the los pinos area. he kept asking, “what was she thinking?” which is exactly what many of us ask and i’m sure in time we’ll have an answer. but that led to the conversation about how there are many people to are ultrarunners or trail runners who enjoy the experience but have NO idea how to survive in the environments they enjoy. i wonder how many people in the SCTHz are in that boat…just one mis-step from a situation similar to gina’s.

    hey, i would say that there are differences you make in people’s lives just by the way you live and conduct yourself. maybe it’s “soft impact” or ancillary results, but it’s a difference all the same. by living consciously, honestly and making hard decisions in your life, you have that impact. i mean, look at all you’ve taught thunderclap about the importance of eating out of trash cans! seriously, don’t beat yourself up too badly. you’ve had a significant impact on me, and i know that’s true for many of our group. i know i’d bust my ass to find you if you were stuck out there and i’d strong arm as many people as possible into helping.

    and as for unicorns? yeah. gotta love that farty glitter.

  2. 2

    aquadump said,

    thanks d00d. i’m glad everything turned out well, but i agree with your thoughts. i rarely carry the 10 essentials on long runs and even on short backpacking trips . . and i’ve let my CPR certification expire. it’s interesting to see people talking about stuff like this and beacons, ham radio, etc.

    at lunch, we were talking about the sounds and smells of unicorn farts. i’m thinking a trumpet and lavender, respectively.

  3. 3

    Rooster said,

    I agree with what d00d said. You have a ripple effect whether you know about it or not. I take “Pete-isms” many places with me. I pass them along to others, too. All is not lost.

    Also, much like a starving artist or a musician on hallucinogens, you wouldn’t have as much passion/inspiration for these things if you were unbound by this thing called “a job.” Trust me.


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