Chapter 7: Jennifer (California)

Hi, I’m Jennifer @jv_moon I have been hiking since 2012. My first hike was 3-miles, it was 100 degrees outside and I thought I was going to die! I remember thinking “I am never doing this again” but that changed when I got to the top, once I saw the view. After that I wanted to see how far I could push myself, how much higher can I hike? What is the view like from up there?

I used to allow asthma to limit me, but with each hike I conquered I felt more confident to go even harder, higher and longer. I started off on short trails working my way up to bagging Cucamonga peak at 12 miles and 8895 ft above sea level (it took me 12 hours).

Towards the end of the hike, I got elevation sickness, I felt light headed, I felt like I lacked oxygen, many times I thought about turning around. I got frustrated and slammed my hiking stick, kicked a few rocks, asking myself why was I doing this to myself?

When I finally made it to the top and saw the most stunning view, I started crying! I was above the clouds and it was so serene up there. I was tired and in pain, but I felt so good, I remember saying to myself “f**k asthma!” 

After that I hiked Mount Baldy, which is the tallest in L.A county. It’s not just the view at the summit for me, sometimes I stop just to listen to nature and it’s so relaxing!

My biggest challenge has been dealing with crappy lungs. It slows me down so much and I run out of breath embarrassingly fast. This makes me stop often during a hike and I feel like I am slowing my friends down.

I will say that ever since I started hiking I haven’t had to use an asthma pump which is amazing. My lung capacity is still isn’t great, but I’ve accepted that this is just how it is for me. I work my way around it.

My most rewarding moment was my first ever backpacking trip. I had no idea what it would be like to hike and sleep in the middle of nowhere for 3 days. It was an amazing experience. I love sharing my experiences with others and encouraging people to go outside. Initially they’re almost all reluctant then it’s “when are we going again?”, I love it!

My best advice to others that want to start hiking is just go for it! Start small and work your way up and take your time. It can take years to build up to it but trust me it is worth it. Push yourself but also listen to your body.

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